BOGOTA, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Cerrejon, one of Colombia's
biggest coal producers, said on Friday its export figure for the
first half of 2020 was its lowest in 18 years due to a slump in
coal demand, legal rulings and the COVID-19 crisis.
The mine, located in the poor desert province of La Guajira,
is owned equally by BHP Group, Anglo American
Exports were just 9.5 million tonnes in the first half of
this year, the company said, 3.8 million less than in same
period last year.
"This result is a consequence of the reduction in demand for
coal, the lack of access to more profitable reserves like La
Puente because of different judicial decisions and the crisis
created by COVID-19, which has taken us to an unprecedented
situation," Cerrejon said in a statement.
Coal prices fell 26% in the first half compared with the
first six months of 2019, the statement added.
The price fall was reflected in the company's results, it
said. In the first half of 2020 Cerrejon registered a loss of
368 billion pesos ($97.7 million).
The figures come amid a contract dispute between Cerrejon
and its largest union, Sintracarbon.
The union's members are currently voting on whether to
strike. The result is expected on Monday.
"Despite the economic situation, the company has made a very
good offer that maintains the excellent economic benefits the
company offers to each worker and which are superior to those
received by many workers in La Guajira," Cerrejon president
Claudia Bejarano said.
Benefits include an 89% subsidy for health insurance,
tuition help for workers' children, low-interest home loans and
a signing bonus of 5.5 million pesos per worker.
Sintracarbon is demanding a 6% salary increase in addition
to other benefits. It accuses Cerrejon of looking to cut costs
by freezing, reducing and eliminating employee benefits.
($1 = 3,767.05 Colombian pesos)
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by David Gregorio)