Coal train strike in Colombia affects main producer Drummond output

The world’s fourth-biggest coal exporter, Drummond International, had to dramatically cut production in Colombia as a three-weeks strike at Feneco, the main coal railway, continues to affect its operations, said the company.

Drummond, which is Colombia's second-largest coal exporter, said the with the railway out of operation, coal exports have ceased and inventory at the mine loadout facility has reached full capacity.

“As such, Drummond, for an indefinite period of time, will be significantly reducing its operations in Colombia," said the coal miner in a statement.

Colombia, the fourth largest coal exporter has estimated reserves for at least a century and prosperous production projections for the coming years. However, the sector is being seriously threatened by workers' strikes and guerrilla attacks, leaving millions in losses and jeopardizing the 97 million tons of coal forecasted for this year’s production.

According to local newspaper El País Vallenato, some explosions registered last week, lead to think armed groups are also trying to sabotage coal production in the country.

Last Wednesday’s was the third attack in the a month on the infrastructure belonging to one of the three operating companies of Cerrejón, considered the largest coal open pit mine in the world.

Bump in the road

Before the rail strike, the mine industry in Colombia had been attracting investors, companies and explorers eager to tap into the country’s booming market.

Colombia’s economy, which is Latin America’s fifth largest, has grown four times as rapidly as Canada’s in recent years, with foreign investment quadrupling between 2002 and 2008.

The country holds vast and, until now, untapped natural resources, including coal, gold, silver and oil and the government has been taking a number of measures to boost the sector, which currently accounts for only 2% of Colombia's economy.

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