BOGOTA Jan 4 U.S.-based coal miner Drummond is
able to continue loading coal at its port in Colombia despite a
resolution suspending those operations as the resolution still
needs to be approved by the environmental licensing agency, an
official told Reuters on Saturday.
The local environmental agency in Magdalena province, where
Drummond's port is located, ordered the company on Friday to
suspend loading of coal onto ships until it met a new law
requiring the use of a conveyor belt instead of cranes.
The decision appeared to contradict another last month by
the central government of the world's fourth-biggest coal
exporter for Drummond to continue loading by crane after a Jan.
1 deadline if it paid a daily fine.
Drummond, Colombia's second-biggest miner of coal, expects
to complete construction of its conveyor belt loader by March.
The enclosed conveyor belt pours coal directly into ships'
holds, a cleaner method than using cranes, which cause dust and
lumps of coal to fall into the sea.
Most other large miners in Colombia have already switched to
conveyor belt loading or have always used that system.
Corpamag, the public environmental corporation in the
coastal province, said its decision was not yet applicable as
Drummond's legal representative was absent and had not formally
received notification and because the environmental licensing
agency, known as ANLA, also needed to approve it.
"ANLA will decide whether it will apply the decision of the
Corporation or whether Drummond can continue working," Antonio
Martinez Gutierrez, interim director of Corpamag, told Reuters.
The Environment Ministry's decision last month to fine
Drummond for each day it loads by crane after Jan. 1 instead of
suspending its port operations outright showed the government's
will to avoid disruption to its operations. Mining royalties are
an important source of government income.
Gutierrez said Corpamag was simply carrying out its duties
in demanding that environmental laws be respected, regardless of
what arrangements had been made between Drummond and the
He could not say whether there was a legal time limit for
ANLA to make a decision on Corpamag's order.