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Drummond Miners Accept Pay Offer Signaling Coal Strike End

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Workers at Drummond Co. accepted a pay offer after more than six weeks of strike, indicating Colombia’s second-largest coal producer may restart output as soon as Monday and resume exports to European power producers including Electricite de France SA.

A majority of the Birmingham, Alabama-based miner’s permanent employees in Colombia voted in the past three days to end the stoppage at two mines and a port, said Dionicio Machuca, president of Agretritrenes, one of three unions representing the workers. Alfredo Moreno, president of the Sintradrummond miners group, also said a majority accepted the offer.

“If the documentation is presented in the Labor Ministry, we could start work next week,” Machuca said by phone yesterday. “As soon as Monday.”

Drummond, whose 26 million metric tons of coal output last year represented about 29 percent of Colombia’s production, increased its wage offer last month as the government estimates losses of 1.6 billion pesos ($820,000) in daily royalties. Coal is the country’s main export after oil.

“We are happy that an agreement has been reached between employees and the mining company,” Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said on his Twitter page. “Good news for the economy.”

Ministry Decision

The strike continues until the Labor Ministry “says something,” said Joni Ojeda, an official at the Sintramienergetica union. Drummond didn’t reply to an e-mail and calls seeking comment.

Voting that concluded yesterday isn’t binding and doesn’t necessarily mean the strike is over, Reuters reported today, citing a Labor Ministry official it didn’t name.

The Sintramienergetica union said before the vote that it would reject the offer and is demanding a minimum monthly salary rather than the company’s proposed 5 percent increase in hourly pay. Drummond’s proposal also includes health and education benefits.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Willis in Bogota at awillis21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net

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