Assailants Bomb Trucks of Colombia Coal Company Cerrejon During Strike
By Dan Molinski
BOGOTA--Colombia's top coal producer Cerrejon, whose 5,000 employees have been on strike for more than two weeks, said
assailants used explosives to attack and "seriously damage" four of the company's trucks in a Sunday morning raid.
The bombing near the company's open-pit mine in the northern La Guajira region comes as union leaders and company
executives prepare to restart talks Monday aimed at ending the walkout, which is costing the company millions of dollars
a day as 100,000 tons of coal a day go unproduced.
Cerrejon is equally owned by mining giants Xstrata PLC (XTA.LN), Anglo American PLC (AAUKY, AAL.LN) and BHP Billiton
Ltd. (BLT.LN, BHP).
"There were no human losses as a result of this terrorist action, but four of the company's trucks that were parked
due to the 17-day strike were seriously damaged," Cerrejon said in a statement.
Igor Diaz, president of the Sintracarbon union, quickly condemned the attack and denied his union had any involvement.
"It's a lamentable act that we emphatically reject," Mr. Diaz wrote on Twitter, saying the bombing was "just as much
against the workers strike" as against the company itself. He said information he has received suggests three trucks
were involved and one caught fire.
The strike has frozen all exports at Cerrejon and comes as its rival producer, Alabama-based Drummond Co., is also
unable to export coal. Drummond's port operating license was suspended Feb. 6 due to an environmental incident in which
the company now acknowledges it dumped "about 300 tons" of coal into the Caribbean Sea. It dumped the coal to prevent
one of its barges from sinking, Drummond said.
With exports halted at the No. 1 and No. 2 producers, the country is only exporting one-fifth of what it ships on a
normal day. Colombia's is among the top five coal producers in the world.
Earlier this week, Cerrejon confirmed it has declared force majeure on at least some cargoes, a move that removes it
from any legal obligation to deliver coal it previously agreed to in a contract.
Prices for coal in Europe, the main destination for Colombian coal, were little changed this week, which analysts in
New York said indicates the market has an excess of supply and thus isn't feeling the drop in Colombia shipments.
Write to Dan Molinski at firstname.lastname@example.org
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