Photo: Drummond Co
Colombian environmental authorities have lifted a ban on coal exports by U.S.-based Drummond Co. while also authorizing a train to resume nighttime shipments of the fossil fuel.
The National Authority of Environmental Licenses, or ANLA, announced the two decisions in a statement on Friday.
It said it “technically analyzed and approved” a contingency plan presented by Drummond after it dumped hundreds of tons of coal into the Caribbean Sea on Feb. 12.
Drummond said the incident was an “industrial accident” and that it had “no intention of causing environmental damage.”
ANLA said it will closely monitor the company’s compliance with the plan and its operations, adding that no “sanction will be determined until the investigation is completed.”
Drummond typically exports 70,000 tons of coal per day from Colombia.
Separately, the statement said environmental authorities in the northern province of Cesar lifted a ban on the nighttime operation of a train that ships coal from mines in Colombia’s interior to the ports of Cienaga and Santa Marta.
The company Ferrocarriles del Norte del Colombia, which holds the concession for the rail line, said it has taken “adequate steps” to “mitigate the impact of the noise generated by the operation.”
Colombia’s coal industry also has been hit by a strike at the El Cerrejon mine, which is located in the northern province of La Guajira and is the largest open-pit coal mine in the Americas.
The work stoppage began in early February.
The unions and the Cerrejon Coal company, a joint venture owned in equal parts by subsidiaries of Britain’s Anglo American, Australia’s BHP Billiton and Switzerland’s Xstrata, resumed talks this week on salaries and working conditions.