* Goldman Sachs-owned Columbian Natural Resources pays cash
* Vale shifting focus away from thermal coal to coking coal
SAO PAULO, June 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian mining giant Vale said on Monday it closed the sale of its coal assets in Colombia for $407 million in cash to a unit of Colombian Natural Resources, a mining company controlled by U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Vale, the world’s second-biggest miner, is shifting focus away from thermal coal mining to concentrate on its operations in coking coal, a type of coal used by steel mills,
Under an agreement signed last month, Vale said it would sell 100 percent of its coal mines El Hatillo and Cerro Largo in the department of Cesar, and its port terminal Sociedad Portuaria Rio Córdoba on the Caribbean coast.
Vale also planned to sell its 8.43 percent stake in the Ferrocarriles Del Norte de Colombia, which operates the railway between the mines and the terminal. Colombian Natural Resources already owns a stake in the railway and mines in the region.
Rio de Janeiro-based Vale bought the assets in 2008 for about $306 million.
Vale is selling the mines because thermal coal, used to generate electricity, is not part of the company’s “core business,” Roger Downey, head of Vale’s coal operations, said last month. Vale, the world’s largest iron-ore miner, is keeping coal mines that produce coking coal, he said.