Colombia Coal Rail Transport to Be Cut by New Court Ruling

A new court ruling will further restrict transportation on Colombia’s main coal railway used by Drummond Co. and Glencore Plc., according to operator Ferrocarriles del Norte de Colombia SA, or Fenoco.

Fenoco is complying with the ruling since June 6, company President Patrick Ross said. The court decision, dated May 27, bans nighttime transportation of coal for three months in three districts in Colombia’s northern Magdalena province, following complaints from local communities.

A similar ban already exists since Feb. 13 around the town of Bosconia in the province of Cesar, further south, cutting transport capacity on the line by 25 percent. It’s unclear by how much the new ruling will further cut capacity, Ross said.

“It basically extends the curfew for another 90 kilometers,” Ross said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “So you can’t stage trains just outside Bosconia like we did before and then run trains as soon as the flag goes up.”

Drummond, Colombia’s second-largest coal producer, said in March that the nighttime ban is slowing production at mines, and exports from its Caribbean port. Colombia is among the world’s largest coal exporters, serving European power producers including Electricite de France SA and Germany’s EON SE.

The Andean nation produced 88.6 million metric tons last year and aims to produce above 90 million tons this year, Mines and Energy Minister Tomas Gonzalez said May 11. The court ruling also suspends work to build a second parallel track on the railway.

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