Colombia rail blast slows transport at Cerrejon coal mine: media

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2012 9:32 PM
Colombia rail blast slows transport at Cerrejon coal mine: media

BOGOTA (Reuters) - An explosion on a railway line that feeds into Colombia's biggest coal miner, Cerrejon, slowed transport between the mine and a Caribbean port in northern La Guajira province, local media reported.

The attack on Saturday, just as a coal train was passing by, was likely carried out by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Caracol Radio cited police commander Elver Velasco Garabito as saying.

The blast, which blew up eight meters (26 feet) of track between Uribia and Puerto Bolivar, didn't cause major damage to the train or knock it from the rails, Julian Gonzalez, Cerrejon's vice president of social responsibility told Caracol.

Cerrejon officials could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters. Cerrejon is jointly owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Xstrata.

The railway line has suffered scores of attacks since Cerrejon began operations and demonstrates how vulnerable energy and mining companies remain to attacks from Colombia's various insurgent groups.

A government offensive over the past decade against the drug-funded FARC has improved stability and helped attract billions of dollars of foreign direct investment, mostly in the oil and mining sectors, to boost economic growth.

Still, attacks against economic infrastructure have increased in recent months as the rebels seek to gain the upper hand over the government.

Colombia is the world's No. 4 coal exporter behind Indonesia, Australia and Russia.

Colombia's coal industry is dominated by big producers with their own port and rail facilities such as Cerrejon, Glencore and U.S. miner Drummond.

(Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Eric Walsh)