MAC: Mines and Communities

Coal strikes in Colombia

Published by MAC on 2009-04-14

Coal production in Colombian mines, operated by Xstrata and Drummon, have been affected by a strike of transportation workers, over health and safety issues.

Coal trucked to port during Colombian rail strike


6 April 2009

BOGOTA - Coal produced in Colombian mines owned by Swiss-based Xstrata is being trucked to port during a train workers' strike that has shut down the local railway, the company said on Monday.

Last month, Xstrata bought the Colombian mines of privately owned Glencore, which is also based in Switzerland. The mining operations are run under the name Prodeco. "We are moving Prodeco coal to port by road," Xstrata spokeswoman Claire Divver told Reuters. "We have not quantified the impact that this will have on exports."

Coal from Colombian mines owned by U.S.-based Drummond has also been affected by the railway work stoppage.

Some 600 employees of the Fenoco transportation firm are striking to demand recognition of their labor union. The protest has stopped 130,000 tonnes of coal per day from being transported by rail to Caribbean ports from northern Colombian mines, union officials say.

Colombia's labor ministry has called for mediation of the dispute, Divver said. A union representative said the workers had not been informed of any government call for mediation.

Xstrata expects to produce 11 million tonnes of coal from its Prodeco operations this year while Drummond sees output of 27 million. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Christian Wiessner)


Drummond coal miners say Colombia strike continues


25 March 2009

BOGOTA - A strike at U.S. coal miner Drummond's operations in Colombia will continue until the company agrees to improves safety and increases benefits to the family of a worker recently killed on the job, a union official said on Wednesday.

About 8,000 direct and indirect employees laid down their tools on Monday. A day earlier, worker Dagoberto Clavijo was killed when the truck he was driving fell into Drummond's Pribbenow open pit mine in Cesar province, northern Colombia.

The Sintramienergetica labor union says driving surfaces are unsafe in the area. Operations at the mine have been paralyzed by the work stoppage, the union says. "The strike will continue until the company concedes certain points, including improving workplace safety," Sintramienergetica representative Felix Herrera told Reuters.

The union is also asking Drummond to extend full benefits to Clavijo's family even though he was an indirect employee working for an outside contractor.

Privately controlled, Alabama-based Drummond said in a statement on Tuesday that the accident that killed Clavijo is under investigation "by the competent authorities and the company."

In the statement, Drummond called the strike illegal.

Customers said if the strike is short-lived there is little likelihood of disruption to shipments.

Drummond said recently it expected its output in Colombia to rise 23 percent this year. The miner produced around 22 million tonnes of coal last year and soon expects a new operation to go online and increase output.

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by David Gregorio)


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