FARC guerrillas bomb railway of top Colombia coal miner Cerrejon


BOGOTA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Colombia's biggest coal producer,Cerrejon, said a bomb attack on its railway on Sunday partiallyderailed a train carrying coal to port and damaged the track,but exports would continue as normal using stocks held at itsprivately-owned port.

The early-morning attack, which a military source toldReuters was carried out by the country's main rebel group, theFARC, was the latest in a spate of explosions in the last weekblamed on the guerrillas and targeting oil and gas pipelines.

The railway owned and used exclusively by Cerrejon, carried32.7 million tonnes of coal from its mine in La Guajira provinceto its port, Puerto Bolivar in 2012, the company said. Cerrejonis a joint venture between Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Xstrata.

A Cerrejon team was working with the security forces tosecure the area where the explosion took place and carry outnecessary repairs to re-open the line, a company statement said.

Juan Carlos Restrepo, a company spokesman, told Reuters itwas unclear how long it would take to reopen the rail line, butsaid stocks at the port would cover export requirements until itreopened.

"Cerrejon condemns this type of violent action thatgenerates considerable economic and environmental damage and atthe same time creates a high risk of fatalities," Cerrejon'sstatement said.

The explosion was a further setback to the company this yearand to Colombia's coal sector as a whole after a month-longstrike by Cerrejon workers in February followed by a seven weekstoppage at Colombia's No. 2 miner, Drummond.

Cerrejon's property was subject to seven attacks in 2012.The company did not blame any specific group for the attack andsaid no one had been injured.

The FARC and their smaller counterpart, the ELN, regularlyattack infrastructure in the energy sector in protest at thepresence of foreign companies whose activities they say do notsufficiently benefit the Colombian population.

Though attacks continue, security for businesses has vastlyimproved since a U.S.-backed offensive against anti-governmentguerrillas and drug gangs was launched in 2002.

That has helped attract billions of dollars in newinvestment as explorers push into more areas in search ofminerals and oil. In 2012, Colombia brought in $16 billion inforeign investment, up from around $2 billion in 2002.

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