Colombia's strategic coal railway to restart on 17 August
Santiago, 15 August (Argus) — Fenoco expects to restart its coal railway on 17 August following a crippling strike that has disrupted Colombia´s coal exports since late July, pushing up international prices.
Assuming no resistance from dissident union members, the company´s 624 workers are due back at work tomorrow morning after the union voted on 13 August to end the strike.
Fenoco will first carry out a safety inspection of its 1,700km of tracks, including 200km in the north used for coal transportation, a process that will take a minimum of two days, Fenoco president Peter Burrowes told Argus today.
“I´m sure the union will be respectful of all the legal actions, as we were respectful in closing the company when they declared a strike on 23 July. Assuming that happens, we go back to work at 7:30 tomorrow morning,” Burrowes said.
The Fenoco railway, controlled by US firm Drummond, Switzerland-based trading house Glencore and US bank Goldman Sachs, transports around half of Colombia's coal exports, which reached 79.2mn t last year. The strike forced Drummond to suspend exports from Puerto Drummond.
Meanwhile, a Bogota court last night declared the strike illegal. The union immediately appealed the ruling before Colombia´s supreme court.
If the ruling is ratified by the supreme court in approximately three months, union leaders could be dismissed without indemnity.
Drummond has lost 80,000-85,000 t/d of exports during the course of the strike. The company has around 1.4mn t of coal stored at mines waiting to be transported.
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