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May 24, 2021

Colombia’s Cerrejon coal mine suspends operations due to blockades

The decision comes as other blockades related to anti-government protests have caused transportation problems within Colombia.

The Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia has been reportedly closed after two blockades deter gasoline supplies.

The first blockade started on Cerrejon’s railway line on 5 May and was led by a group of former workers, reported Reuters.

The workers reportedly refused to hold talks with the company.

The other blockade is on a road out of its port made by members of the Media Luna community.

Owned by a joint venture of BHP Group, Anglo American and Glencore, Cerrejon has one of the world’s largest surface coal mining operations said that it would suspend worker and contractor contracts under the force majeure.

The move to suspend operations at the mine comes as other blockades associated with anti-government protests have caused problems with transportation in the country.

Commenting on the blockades, the Colombian Mines and Energy Ministry said on Twitter that 200,000t of coal export has been suspended. This led to losses of $21.3m (COP80bn) for the mining industry.

Reuters cited Cerrejon as saying: “Cerrejon is currently suffering two blockades, led by people unconnected to the company, which have impeded the transport of coal and the delivery of water to communities and made the arrival of essential supplies for mining operations impossible.

“The lack of gasoline, caused by these blockades, has meant Cerrejon cannot carry out its mining activities because of force majeure and in consequence, from today, will stop operations.”

The firms operating the mine have been facing disagreements with nearby Wayuu indigenous communities and its largest union.

Last year, mining operations at the Cerrejon project were impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the strike by the labour union in September 2020.

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