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Cerrejon declares force majeure on coal cargoes as Colombian mine strike continues

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Colombian coal major Cerrejon has declared force majeure on some of its cargoes due to the continued strike at the mine.

Beginning 7 February 2013, the strike has left 10 coal vessels waiting for loading affecting supplies to European and North American customers, said Coal Marketing Company (CMC) - the exclusive marketer of thermal steam coal from the Cerrejón mining complex.

Cerrejon is a joint venture between global mining firms Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Xstrata, and accounts for 36 of all Columbian coal production totaling 32 million tonnes per annum.

Force majeure on nearly 600,000t of coal will help the company suspend contractual obligations in the face of the unexpected and long drawn strike.

CMC chief executive Howard Gatiss told Reuters that it was the mine's first strike since 1990.

"Force majeure has been declared on at least some of these vessels. As long as the strike continues we are unable to comply with our obligations to customers," Gatiss said.

"No-one knows how long the strike will continue and we are in discussion to reschedule shipments."

Gatiss added that preliminary talks between unions and management had been stalled for a few days now, delaying attempts to negotiate wages and benefits.