Colombia’s 30-million-ton-a-year Puerto Brisa port has been delayed to the second half of 2012 for further discussions with local indigenous communities, its president said.
The world’s No. 4 coal exporter expects to double coal output over the next decade, and coal players complain that the lack of access to quality infrastructure is cutting exporter profits and raising transport prices.
“We’d expected to start operations in April next year, unfortunately due to an action of the constitutional court, we’ve had to suspend operations at Puerto Brisa,” Fernando Sanclamente, president of Puerto Brisa, told a conference.
Sanclamente said that it must now hold further consultations with local indigenous communities for a total of 90 working days. He did not specify what those discussions should entail.
“After the 90 days are over, if a consensus is not reached, the environment ministry must define the situation. We are completely optimistic,” he said late on Thursday.
Last year, the port said it expected to start operations by the end of this year or early next, and it was unclear what could happen if a consensus was not reached at the meetings.
The harbor with water depth of 66 feet will be able to handle ships of up to 180,000 dead weight tonnes, and in its first phase, it can have two ships docked at a time, according to the port.
The Andean nation has seen a boom in energy and mining investment since former President Alvaro Uribe took power in 2002 and pushed pro-investment polices and a U.S.-backed security crackdown on Marxist guerrillas.
Colombia’s coal production is dominated by big thermal producers with their own port and rail facilities while smaller producers say they struggle with high costs of transporting their material and getting port access for export.