The export ban on Drummond, Colombia’s second-largest exporter of coal, was lifted Friday.
Drummond shipping operations were suspended on February 6 after the Alabama-based company dumped tons of coal into the Caribbean Sea from a sinking barge on January 13. The mining company insisted that the actions were necessary in order to save the lives of the crew, but did not report the incident until footage of the disaster was aired on television.
The National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) suspended shipping operations which reportedly cost the company as much as $6.4 million per day.
Drummond was required to draw up an updated contingency plan and the suspension is now lifted.
The ANLA told press that just because the coal export ban on Drummond was lifted, doesn’t mean that the investigation is over. “It is an ongoing punitive process that will determine whether it was an accident or negligence,” Luz Helena Sarmiento, general director of ANLA said.
Colombia’s coal industry has been hit hard recently with three out of the top five producing companies at a standstill. Cerrejon, Colombia’s biggest coal producer has been shut down by a strike, and a termination of the operating contract has shut down the La Francia mine owned by Goldman Sachs Group.
In another taste of good news for the industry, a ban on overnight transport on Colombia’s main coal railway was also lifted Friday. The ban had put a stop to trains running between 10:30PM and 4:30AM so as not to disturb residents’ sleep.
Javier Garcia, head of corporate mining for the Ministry of Mining and Energy told Bloomberg Friday that the shut downs in the mining sector are costing Colombia 192,000 metric tons of exports per day, affecting 79 percent of the country’s output.