BHP Billiton Plc, Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc’s Cerrejon coal mine said guerrillas have stepped up assaults as part of a campaign against energy and mining infrastructure in Colombia.
Rebels attacked the mine or its railway four times this year, up from three incidents in all of 2011, Roberto Junguito, the venture’s chief executive officer, said in an interview yesterday in Cartagena, Colombia. Cerrejon is the world’s largest coal mine for export.
“We’re asking the government to take measures to reduce it in the future to zero,” he said. “There has been a change in strategy” by the rebels.
Guerrillas have blown up oil equipment and coal railways as record commodities production increases revenue for Colombia’s government in a fifth decade of armed conflict. State-run Ecopetrol SA reduced this year’s oil output target after pipeline bombings more than tripled in the first half of the year. Attacks on infrastructure like energy towers, roads and bridges jumped last year for the first time since 2008.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, on Aug. 8 used explosives to damage a railway that carries coal from Cerrejon to port, after entering the mine to blast equipment last weekend. Assaults haven’t affected production or exports from the mine complex spread over about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in northern Colombia, where the government has increased military presence in the past year, according to Junguito. He took over as CEO this year.
Production at the mine will rise to 33.3 million tons this year, about 32 million tons of which will be exported. The remaining 1.3 million tons will be added to inventories.
Output from the Cerrejon mine is expected to rise to 40 million tons in 2017 as part of an expansion plan announced last year.