Colombia’s new coal port to start H2 2011-VP

* Port’s first phase will only facilitate coal exports

* Capacity to handle ships up to 180,000 tonnes

By Jack Kimball

PAIPA, Colombia, Aug 20 (BestGrowthStock) – Colombia’s 28-million-tonne-a-year
Puerto Brisa port will begin operations, mainly for coal exporters, toward
the end of 2011, its vice president said.

The world’s No. 5 coal exporter expects to double coal output by 2019,
and coal players complain that the lack of access to cheap infrastructure
is cutting exporter profits and raising prices at a time when Asian demand
is rising.

“We’ll complete the first phase in the second half of the coming year,
more towards the end,” Javier Mendez, vice president of Puerto Brisa, said
late Thursday.

The port — located in Guajira state along the Caribbean sea — began
leveling works in July and has just contracted a company to begin port
building, Mendez told reporters at a coal infrastructure conference in the
town of Paipa.

The harbor with water depth of 66 feet will be able to handle ships of
up to 180,000 dead weight tonnes, and in its first phase, it can have two
ships docked at a time, he said.

The Andean nation has seen a boom in energy and mining investment since
former President Alvaro Uribe took power in 2002 and pushed pro-investment
polices and a U.S.-backed security crackdown on Marxist guerrillas.

Colombia’s coal production is dominated by big thermal producers with
their own port and rail facilities such as Glencore, Drummond and Cerrejon,
a joint venture owned by BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ), Anglo American (AAL.L: ) and
Xstrata (XTA.L: ).

Small producers — mainly inland metallurgical coal players — say they
struggle with high costs of transporting their material and getting port
access for export.

This month, Colombia formally approved a 30-year concession for a
32-million-tonnes-a-year coal port with majority shares owned by Glencore’s
Prodeco unit. [ID:nN05251865]

President Juan Manuel Santos’ government — which has vowed continuity
with Uribe’s pro-business policies and took power on Aug. 7 — recently
said it would allocate additional spending in the 2011 budget of more than
$1 billion on infrastructure, agriculture, mining, technology and housing.

Mendez said Puerto Brisa — which is privately funded — will have an
initial 4,000 tonnes-an-hour capacity loader and will probably move 6.5
million tonnes of bulk coal in its first year. It expects to later handle
container traffic.

Mendez did not give a figure on how much the project would cost nor
details on the next phases of the project.
(Editing by John Picinich)

Colombia’s new coal port to start H2 2011-VP