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09-08-2012 20:55:00

Colombia Coal Production Rises 15% in First Six Months of '12

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BOGOTA--Colombia's coal production during the first half of the year was 46.5 million metric tons, a 15% increase from that period of 2011, deputy mines minister Henry Medina said Thursday.

The first-half figure is preliminary because output data from some smaller mines are yet to be confirmed, Medina said.

Colombia is one of the world's top coal exporters. Its official production target for all of 2012 is 97 million metric tons. However, that goal has been put in doubt due to an ongoing strike at Colombia's main railway, which has halted nearly 60% of Colombia's coal exports, forcing producers to slow down production lines.

The strike by hundreds of workers demanding higher wages at the Fenoco railway is in its 18th day, and talks to end the walkout broke down this week. The Fenoco railroad is owned by the coal companies that use its lines to transport coal to the coast: Glencore International PLC (GLNCY, GLEN.LN, 0805.HK), Alabama-based Drummond Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s (GS) local unit, Colombian Natural Resources.

Mr. Medina said it was too early to tell whether the strike may force Colombia to lower its 2012 production target. Fenoco hopes to break the strike by calling for a vote of employees Monday, who would either reaffirm the walkout or call it off.

Write to Dan Molinski at dan.molinski@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 09, 2012 14:55 ET (18:55 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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