Drummond Optimistic about Restarting Coal Loading

By MarEx 2014-01-28 20:05:00

U.S. coal miner Drummond may finish construction of a new loading system at its Colombian port earlier than expected, the country's top mining official said on Tuesday, allowing it to resume exports from the Andean nation.

The government shuttered Drummond's port on Jan. 14 because it continued to load coal onto ships with cranes and barges even after a Jan. 1 ban on the method. The company, Colombia's No. 2 coal producer, had said it needed until March to finish building a mandatory conveyor belt loading system.

Mines and Energy Minister Amylkar Acosta told reporters in Bogota that "I think it will be ready before, I'm optimistic. That will be beneficial to the company and to the country."

The compulsory switch to conveyor belt loading seeks to end pollution caused when crane-handled lumps of coal and dust fall into the sea.

A Drummond barge also spilled a load of coal into the sea at its port in rough weather a year ago.

The port shutdown constricted coal shipments from Colombia, which is the world's No. 4 coal exporter. Drummond invoked force majeure, a default clause, on shipments that were due to be loaded.

Copyright Reuters 2014.