Workers block Colombia coal miner Cerrejon's rail access to export facility

A mining truck transports coal at a Cerrejon mine near Barrancas, Guajira province, May 24, 2007. Picture taken on May 24, 2007. REUTERS/Jose Miguel Gomez/File Photo

BOGOTA, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Colombian coal miner Cerrejon, owned by Anglo-Swiss commodities giant Glencore (GLEN.L), said on Saturday that a group of former workers has been blocking a rail line to a key export facility on the Caribbean Coast.

Blockades on roads and rail lines around the open pit mine in La Guajira - one of the largest in Colombia, which produced 23.4 million tons of coal last year - are not uncommon.

In a statement, Cerrejon said the employees were let go more than 20 months ago but are demanding to get their jobs back.

The rail line is used to transport coal to a key export facility, Puerto Bolivar.

The blockade is resulting in a daily loss of more than 22 billion pesos ($4.58 million) in income tax, the company said in a statement, and is putting at risk the jobs of more than 11,000 workers and contractors.

"We are a company open to dialogue... but we have come across a small group of people who are making unreasonable demands," said Luis Eduardo Marulanda, vice president of public affairs, in the statement.

Colombia is a major world exporter of coal, producing 53.5 million tons last year alone, and the mineral is one of the most important sources of income.

($1 = 4,801.1000 Colombian pesos)

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher Editing by Sandra Maler

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