By Luis Jaime Acosta
BOGOTA Jan 3 A regional environmental authority
in Colombia on Friday ordered U.S.-based miner Drummond
to suspend coal loading, an action which appeared to
contradict a recent national government decision and could shut
off a third of the country's exports of the fuel.
The authority, Corpamag, said in a statement that it had
ordered Colombia's second biggest coal producer to immediately
stop loading until it could use the legally required conveyor
"The measure, which is of a preventive character, is to be
adhered to immediately and can not be appealed against in any
way," the statement said.
Drummond's press office told Reuters the company had no
comment to make, but a worker at Drummond's port told Reuters by
mobile phone from the site that it was still operating normally,
about half an hour after Reuters received Corpamag's statement.
Corpamag representatives were not immediately available to
clarify whether the entity's decision overruled that of the
Environment Ministry or to provide more detail about their
authority to take the apparently unilateral decision.
Environment Ministry officials were also not immediately
reachable for comment.
As of Jan. 1, all coal miners operating in Colombia are
required to use conveyor belts instead of cranes to load coal.
The law is aimed at reducing environmental pollution and
spillage of coal into the sea.
Drummond does not expect to complete installation of its
conveyor belt loader until March, but it had agreed with the
government last month that it would continue conventional crane
loading and pay a daily fine for the privilege.
Corpamag, the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Magdalena
province where Drummond's port is located, describes itself on
its website as a public entity tasked with overseeing local
environmental issues and promoting sustainable development.