Alabama-based Drummond Co. expects to produce about 24 million tons of coal at its Colombian mines in 2010, up from around 23 million tons last year, a senior company official said Friday.
About 30% of the company’s output is going to Asia, Alberto Garcia, vice president of the company’s mining and hydrocarbon division, told reporters on the sidelines of an oil and gas conference. The company sends all of its coal by train to the coast where it is loaded onto ships for export.
Drummond operates two mines in Colombia in the northern province of Cesar. The first and the largest is called Pribbenow, or La Loma, and the second is El Descanso, which opened in 2009.
Garcia said El Descanso is likely to produce 6 million tons this year. “El Descanso is a huge reserve which is just starting,” he said.
Mario Ballesteros, the head of Ingeominas, a mining regulatory agency, told reporters that Drummond’s mines would produce between 22 million and 25 million tons this year.
Coal is Colombia’s second-largest legal export, following oil and processed oil products. Coal sales abroad brought in $5.42 billion last year, up from $5.04 billion in 2008. Colombia is the largest coal exporter in Latin America.
Drummond is the country’s second-largest producer after Carbones del Cerrejon LLC, which is jointly owned by London-listed Xstrata PLC, Anglo American PLC and BHP Billiton PLC, each of which own 33.3%.
Ballesteros said the country is likely to export between 70 million and 72 million tons of coal this year, compared with 68 million tons in 2009.