Colombia Jan-Sept coal output falls 11.2 pct from year ago


BOGOTA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Colombia's coal production fromJanuary to September fell to 60 million tonnes, down 11.2percent from the same period of 2012, the National Mining Agencysaid on Friday, a drop attributed to strikes at the biggestminers and guerrilla attacks on railways.

The world's No. 4 coal exporter has a nationwide target toproduce 94 million tonnes of coal this year, up from 89.2million tonnes for all of last year, but it will now take asurge in output to achieve it in the final quarter of 2013.

Colombia produced a higher 67.6 million tonnes in the firstnine months of last year but disruption in the coal sector hasbeen rife this year with strikes at its top two miners, Cerrejonand Drummond, lasting a month and seven weeks respectively.

Cerrejon, Colombia's top coal miner, is a joint ventureCerrejon between Anglo American Plc, BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata Plc. It said thisweek that hitting its 2013 production was growing moredifficult.

U.S.-based Drummond is the No. 2 coal miner.

The government's royalty income from coal fell 28 percent inthe first nine months of the year from that period of 2012, to813 billion pesos ($423 million), compounded by a drop ininternational coal prices on top of less production.

The performance of Colombia's coal sector, which exportsmainly to Europe, is important to the Andean country's economy as its second-biggest source of foreign currency.

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