Colombia Court Lifts Coal Rail Ban, Aiding Glencore Exports

  • Fenoco railway used by Drummond, Murray Energy, Glencore
  • Ban implemented February, transportation to resume Thursday

A court in northern Colombia has ordered an end to a nighttime transport ban on the country’s main railway, enabling companies including Glencore Plc, Drummond Co. and Murray Energy Corp. to increase coal exports to Europe.

Transport restrictions between 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. on the Fenoco railway around the town of Bosconia in northern Colombia must now be lifted, according to the decision sent by e-mail and dated Nov. 25. Implemented in February, the restrictions cut transport capacity by at least 25 percent, or about 15 million metric tons of coal on an annualized basis, operator Fenoco said at the time.

“I’m ecstatic,” Fenoco President Patrick Ross said Thursday in a telephone interview from Cartagena. The ban “had a critical effect on our ability to meet our service requirements, and for our customers to meet their market demands.”

Nighttime transportation will resume Thursday, Ross said.

The Fenoco railway connects mines in northern Colombia with Caribbean ports, from where it’s shipped to European energy producers including Electricite de France SA and Germany’s EON SE. Coal is Colombia’s biggest export after oil and an important source of government revenue.

The nighttime ban was implemented after locals in Bosconia complained about the noise. Fenoco subsequently implemented a series of noise-reduction measures including greasing of tracks and reduced used of the train’s whistle, leading to the court’s decision to lift the ban.

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