Increased demand for Colombian coal from Turkey saw exports from the South American country increase in 2014. However, demand from the Netherlands plummeted, while a suspension of operations at Drummond’s Caribbean coal port saw official coal export targets missed.
Colombia’s thermal coal exports totalled 75.1 million t last year, up from 73.7 million t in 2013, according to shipping agency Deep Blue. In December, thermal coal shipments increased by 3.1% year-on-year to 7.3 million t, as buyers stocked up for the winter.
The country's total coal exports, including thermal and metallurgical coal, as well as metallurgical coke, totalled 77.6 million t last year, 1.5% higher than the 76.4 million t exported in 2013. But exports fell short of the 85 million t the government initially expected.
One international coal analyst, who forecast Colombian thermal coal exports at 75.8 million t, said the suspension of loadings at Puerto Drummond was a major factor in slowing volumes.
Exports were also hampered by global oversupply, which posed a new challenge to the three largest Colombian thermal coal mine companies, Cerrejon, Drummond and Glencore.
Argus Media assessed fob Puerto Bolivar thermal coal prices at US$64/t on 30 December, down from US$66.75/t at the end of 2013, which compared with US$82.25/t at the end of 2012. Declines have accelerated in 2015, with Puerto Bolivar coal falling to US$58/t last week.
Drummond, Colombia's second largest coal company, increased coal exports by 8.6% year-on-year to 21.7 million t, despite the port suspension, but fell short of its revised export forecast of 25 million t.
Alabama-based Drummond could not export coal from 13 January until 31 March 31 after the government ordered it to halt loading because it failed to install direct loaders by a 1 January deadline. The company kept producing coal for about two and a half months during the outage and its inventories swelled to around million t, of which 2 million t remains at the port and the mines.
Cerrejon, the country's largest coal exporter, increased coal exports by 2.1% year-on-year in 2014, despite cutting production at several pits to ease coal dust concerns.
Cerrejon, which is owned by BHP Billiton, Glencore and Anglo American, exported 34.2 million t of coal last year from its mines in northern Guajira province, up from 33.5 million t in 2012 and 32.8 million t in 2012, the company said. But the company's exports were below the 35 million t the coal analyst had forecast for the company.
Cerrejon's output could have been higher but a lack of rainfall — which led to increased particulate matter from mining operations — forced it to idle several pits, according to Argus.
Colombian coal shipments to Turkey jumped by 20.2% year-on-year to 7.7 million t, as the country brought on line 1.5 GW of coal-fired capacity, which burn exclusively imported coal. Turkey also restocked in the last months of last year. Turkey took 876 073 t in December, compared with 689 986 t in the same month the previous year. Turkey was Colombia's second top coal trading partner after the Netherlands, whose coal imports plummeted by 23% to 19.4 million t last year.
Shipments to the UK increased by 13.5% to 7 million t last year, as utilities stockpiled coal for the winter — and ahead of a planned increase in the UK carbon tax.
Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/handling/16012015/colombian-thermal-coal-exports-rise-in-2014-1752/