Colombia Backs BHP Mine Expansion for Record Coal Output in 2017

  • Government is in talks to resolve Cerrejon expansion hurdles
  • Preliminary data show 2016 production was 88 million tons

Coal is transported on a conveyor belt to silos at the Cerrejon coal mine complex near the village of Albania, Colombia.

Photographer: Mariana Greif Etchebehere/Bloomberg

Colombia’s government is working to remove obstacles to expansion at the country’s largest coal mine to help boost national production to a record of more than 90 million tons.

“We expect a recovery above the 90 million target in 2017,” Mines and Energy Minister German Arce said in a interview in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.

A court recently backed a decision to halt works to divert a river near Cerrejon, a mine near Colombia’s Caribbean coast which is owned jointly by BHP Billiton Ltd, Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc. The government is holding talks with the company and local communities to try to resolve the issue, which would allow the mine to expand, boosting output “significantly”, Arce said.

Colombia’s ability to hit its output goal is closely linked to Cerrejon’s expansion projects, Arce said. Higher prices helped boost production of the fossil fuel to about 88 million tons last year, he said, from 85.5 million tons in 2015. Coal is the nation’s top export after oil.

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