Colombia's coal, gold, silver, platinum output falls in Q3

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Colombia's production of coal and precious metals declined in the third quarter, while that of nickel, iron ore and emeralds rose, the government said.

Latin America's largest producer saw coal output drop 8% to 21.5Mt in the quarter compared with 23.4Mt a year earlier, the national mining agency (ANM) said in a statement.

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Gold production fell 38.3% to 288,194oz from 467,768oz, the agency said. The government has imposed tougher controls on gold trading as part of a clampdown on illegal mining. Silver output was down 0.3% to 76,935oz from 77,164oz, while platinum plunged 44.5% to 4,952oz from 8,934oz.

"These figures back and confirm the tasks of monitoring and control that we're carrying out," energy and mines minister Germán Arce said. "We can't permit illegal mining to steal the limelight from mining that is well done. The government will continue to block those seeking to illegally extract Colombians' resources."

Nickel output rose 33.8% to 25.7Mlb (11,650t), all from the Cerro Matoso mine owned by BHP Billiton spin-off South32, from 19.2Mlb a year ago, according to the agency.

Emeralds production nearly tripled to 619,471 carats from 228,039 carats a year earlier. Iron ore output was up 36% to 191,117t from 140,447t a year ago, the agency said.

Phosphate rock operations restarted this year, registering 10,496t in production in the quarter, the figures show.

Colombia produced 90.5Mt coal, 81.78Mlb nickel, 1.99Moz gold, 335,248oz silver, 29,481oz platinum, 2.03mn carats in emeralds, 715,692t iron ore and 42,889t phosphate rock in 2016.

President Juan Manuel Santos is courting mining investment to diversify the country's economy away from its dependence on hydrocarbons. The mining industry is studying US$7.6bn in gold, silver and copper projects over the next five years, according to Colombian mining association ACM.

Companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Eco Oro Minerals and Continental Gold have lined up projects in Colombia, while Vancouver-based Red Eagle Mining began production at its US$55mn San Ramón gold mine last year.