Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia shows explosive growth in Q1

The ongoing expansion of the production and coal transportation infrastructure of the Cerrejon strip mine in Colombia continues, with one-third owner Anglo American plc reporting April 19 that its share of Cerrejon production in the first quarter was 2.95 million tonnes, up 13% from 2.61 million tonnes in the year-ago quarter.

The first quarter 2012 production also topped fourth quarter 2011 output of 2.75 million tonnes at this mine, which ships heavily into the Gulf and Atlantic coastal power plant market in the U.S.

Multiply the 2.95 million tonnes from Anglo American’s one-third share of the mine by three and you get total first quarter production of 8.85 million tonnes. Multiply that by four quarters of the year, and you get a run rate of 35.4 million tonnes per year, well above the old 32 million tonne per year cap on Cerrejon coal production prior to the ongoing expansion project. The other one third owners of the mine are BHP Billiton and Xstrata plc.

Cerrejon includes a thermal coal open-pit mine, a railroad that is 150 kilometers long, and a maritime port able to receive ships of up to 180,000 tonnes dead weight.

The Cerrejon operating company said on March 5 that during the month of February, coal production levels exceeded a 100,000 tonnes daily average. “The figures clearly show the production capability and are aligned to the production plan within the P-40 Expansion Project, which estimates coal production and export levels will reach 40 million tonnes by 2015,” the company noted. “Last year, coal production and exports amounted to 32 [million tonnes], a historic milestone for the company.”

Cerrejon said that according to the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy, total national coal production was 86 million tonnes in 2011, which was up 15.4% compared to 2010. The Colombian government has set a goal of 97 million tonnes of coal exports for 2012.

The Cerrejon operation is familiar to U.S. coal buyers through CMC Coal Marketing Co., the exclusive marketing agent for this coal.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.