Workers block Colombia coal miner Cerrejon’s rail access to export facility
BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian coal miner Cerrejon, owned by Anglo-Swiss commodities giant Glencore, said on Saturday that a group of former workers has been blocking a rail line to a key export facility on the Caribbean Coast.
Blockades on roads and rail lines around the open pit mine in La Guajira – one of the largest in Colombia, which produced 23.4 million tons of coal last year – are not uncommon.
In a statement, Cerrejon said the employees were let go more than 20 months ago but are demanding to get their jobs back.
The rail line is used to transport coal to a key export facility, Puerto Bolivar.
The blockade is resulting in a daily loss of more than 22 billion pesos ($4.58 million) in income tax, the company said in a statement, and is putting at risk the jobs of more than 11,000 workers and contractors.
“We are a company open to dialogue… but we have come across a small group of people who are making unreasonable demands,” said Luis Eduardo Marulanda, vice president of public affairs, in the statement.
Colombia is a major world exporter of coal, producing 53.5 million tons last year alone, and the mineral is one of the most important sources of income.
($1 = 4,801.1000 Colombian pesos)
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Sandra Maler)