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Argus Media: Colombian Fenoco coal rail deliveries drop in January

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World Coal,

Rail deliveries of coal on Colombia's Fenoco railway fell on the year at the start of 2021, with mining firm Drummond now the only major user of the line amid production suspensions at fellow Cesar mining companies Prodeco and CNR, reports Argus Media.

Fenoco hauled 3.07 millionn t of thermal coal in January, down by 1.19 million t on the year, but 380 000 t higher than in December, according to figures from infrastructure agency ANI.

The drop in throughput is a result of production suspensions at Prodeco and CNR. Glencore's Prodeco unit has been off line since March 2020 and CNR has been idle since July, because of unfavourable economics for coal exports. Glencore now plans to return its mining licences for the Prodeco operation, meaning production is unlikely to return in the near term.

The majority of Fenoco rail deliveries therefore are underpinned by Drummond's production and export operations. Drummond has exported 2.5 million tpm since August 2020, accounting for nearly all of the 2.55 million tpm delivered by rail through Fenoco.

In 2019, Drummond's exports represented only approximately 62%, or 2.6 million tpm, of the 4.2 million tpm throughput through Fenoco.

In January, Drummond recorded a first y/y increase in exports since October as loadings rose by 162 443 t to 2.98 million t driven by growth in China. Exports also rose by 483 816 t on month.

In 2020, Fenoco rail deliveries fell by 29.2%, or 14.7 million t, on the year to 35.6 million t, according to ANI figures. This was the lowest since Argus began tracking the figures in 2011, when Fenoco railed 36 million t.

Fenoco reported 85 blockades last year, up from 65 blockades in the whole of 2019. The line was also blocked three times in January by groups protesting COVID-19-related lockdown measures.

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