BOGOTA, Sept 14 The Colombian operations of
U.S.-based coal miner Drummond will reopen on
Saturday evening, the company said, after the government
intervened to end more than seven weeks of strike action that
shut down its two mines and port.
The stoppage halted about one-third of production by the
world's No. 4 coal exporter and was the second major strike in
Colombia's coal sector this year, cutting royalty revenues for
the government and crimping economic growth.
"We should be returning to normality of work from the night
shift of today, September 14th," the company said in a
statement, listing the different groups of workers that would
cover various shifts in the coming days.
On Friday, Colombia's Labor Ministry said it was sending the
case to an arbitration tribunal after the majority of the
company's 5,000 direct, non-contract employees voted to resolve
the dispute that way.
No one at the Sintramienergetica union, which organized the
strike, answered calls to confirm members were returning to
their jobs. On Friday night, a union negotiator, Cesar Flores,
said no official notification had been received from the
government that it was ending the strike.
The strike added to disruption in an already turbulent year
for Colombia's coal sector, with a month-long strike at its
biggest miner, Cerrejon, in February and logistics problems that
had affected rail transport and the loading of ships.
The Drummond stoppage has had little impact on coal prices
however, with the global market well-supplied, a factor that has
weighed on prices for most of this year. Coal for delivery to
Europe (ARA) traded at $78 a tonne on Friday.
Drummond exported 26 million tonnes of coal in 2012, about
one-third of the national total. It had been expected to produce
32 million tonnes out of some 94 million tonnes of forecast
national output in 2013, which would earn the nation about 900
billion pesos ($480 million) in royalties, the government has
said, up from 700 billion pesos last year.
Those targets are likely to be jeopardized after two
prolonged stoppages in a sector that accounts for about 2.4
percent of the Andean nation's gross domestic product.
The strike immediately shut down Drummond's exports since it
included workers at its privately operated port as well as
laborers at its two mines, Pribbenow and El Descanso, in the
north of the country.
Workers represented by the Sintramienergetica union are
demanding a pay increase above the 5 percent Drummond has
offered, a fixed monthly salary instead of hourly pay and new
jobs for 400 port workers who are to be made redundant next
January with the introduction of direct conveyor-belt loading of
In a proposed three-year pay deal posted on its website,
Drummond said it was also offering workers a one-time 8.5
million peso ($4,400) bonus on signing the agreement.