Colombia coal production may grow 10.7% in 2023, industry group says

Cerrejón coal mine, Colombia. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Colombia’s coal production could hit 71.9 million tonnes this year, driven by favorable weather conditions in mining regions, the Colombian Mining Association (ACM) said on Thursday.

If the estimate is correct, annual coal production will increase by 10.7% by the end of 2023, up from 64.9 million tonnes in 2022, the ACM said.

Together with oil, coal exports are one of Colombia’s biggest sources of foreign currency, taxes and royalties, although the government of leftist President Gustavo Petro is seeking to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy sources.

Overall, the ACM said Colombia’s mining exports could be worth $4.96 billion this year, up 32%, driven by exports of thermal coal, gold, coke and nickel, provided international markets stay strong.

“In coal, we expect production to grow by 7 million tonnes,” ACM president Juan Camilo Narino told journalists, adding that 64 million tonnes of the ouput will be thermal coal, while 7 million tonnes will be metallurgical coal.

The ACM also expects gold output of 1.71 million troy ounces in 2023, 26.2% higher than in 2022.

A troy ounce weighs 31.10 grams, whereas an ounce weighs 28.35 grams.

Much of Colombia’s gold is produced by informal miners, including illicit operations backed by illegal armed groups.

Gold output from businesses is forecast between 600,000 and 700,000 troy ounces, Narino said, versus the 616,000 ounces businesses produced in 2022.

“Informal, ancestral and illegal production, as well as that linked to armed groups, will increase this year due to gold prices and the dynamics of the market,” he said.

Colombia could receive some 15 trillion pesos ($3.38 billion) in taxes and royalties from the mining sector this year, three times greater than last year, the group added.

($1 = 4,434.09 Colombian pesos)

(By Luis Jaime Acosta and Oliver Griffin; Editing by Barbara Lewis)


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