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Cerrejon Coal Shipped to Europe After Mine Reopens



By Robert Preston

February 1, 2021 - Nearly half of Colombian producer Cerrejon's coal exports were shipped to Europe in December after the firm's mine reopened at the start of the month, following three months of industrial action.

Eleven cargoes totalling 1.1mn t loaded at the mine's Puerto Bolivar port last month, with 490,000t bound for Europe and 332,000t for Turkey, according to shipping data. One cargo, 165,000t destined for Turkey, stopped in Spain on its way.

Of the remainder, 155,000t was shipped to Canada, 101,000t to Chile and 33,000t to Morocco.

No cargoes loaded for Asia, but widening spreads between Australian and European benchmarks could encourage exports to east Asia early in 2021.

East Asian coal imports from Colombia have tended to increase as the ARA-Newcastle spread has widened. This year, China's ban on Australian coal imports has given Colombian producers an additional opportunity to increase sales in Asia.

In October, Argus' NAR 6,000 kcal/kg fob Newcastle assessment held a $2.02/t premium to the equivalent cif ARA price, but this widened to $4.62/t in November, then $8.50/t in December and $17.05/t this month.

East Asian imports from Colombia have also risen — from 80,000t in October to 240,000t in November and 810,000t in December. Imports from Colombia could remain firm early in 2021 as a result of Asia-Pacific prices' large premium to European values.

Meanwhile, a 49,000t cargo from Colombia's Puerto Nuevo was sent to Guatemala last month. The port serves Glencore's Prodeco and American Natural Resources' CNR units, both of which have been offline for months.

In 2020, Colombia exported 52.3mn t of coal, with the largest share, 14.9mn t, taken by Turkey. Chile received 6.3mn t, and Israel and Brazil each received more than 4mn t. Colombian production probably fell below 50mn t in 2020, which suggests an aggregate draw on Colombian stockpiles across the year.

The country exported over 5mn t of coal in each of the first four months of 2020, with shipments as high as 7.3mn t in February. But monthly exports remained below the 5mn t mark from May, dipping as low as 2.7mn t in September, as operations were suspended at three major mines and global coal demand fell as a result of Covid-19.


Asia Colombian imports vs Newc/ARA spread mn t, $/t