La Loma mine

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The La Loma mine is a coal mine in Cesar Department in northern Colombia which is owned and operated by Drummond produced 22 million tonnes from its La Loma mine [1]

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Background

On its website the company states that it bought the La Loma mine in the late 1980's and that "development commenced in the early 1990’s." The thermal coal produced from the mine is marketed in 13 countries under the trade name Aire Amigo which the company states is "very low in NOx emissions, which is highly desirable to utility plants required to lower these emissions."[2]

(Left to right) Colombia President Alvaro Uribe, Drummond President Garry Neil Drummond, and Drummond Ltd. President Augusto Jimenez.

On its website the company states that its mining operations "includes Mina Pribbenow, an open-pit coal mine located in the Cesar Coal Basin near La Loma, Puerto Drummond, a deep-water ocean port on the Caribbean Sea near Santa Marta, and coal transportation and handling facilities. Drummond Ltd. transports the coal from the mine 120 miles by railcar on the renovated portion of the Colombian National Railroad System and National Highway directly to Puerto Drummond, the deep-water ocean port."[2]

The company states that company exports from Colombia have grown from "1 million tons in 1995 to 22.9 million tons in 2007."[2] In 2000, coal extraction rose by 4 million tons at la Loma mine after Drummond built a huge dragline at the mine site.[3]

Conflict in Colombia

In June 2009, a Drummond contractor, Héctor Rafael Pedroza, was killed in a drive-by shooting at a billiards hall in Valledupar (a city in the Cesar province of Colombia).[4] Two other men were killed, including a demobilized paramilitary, Wilman Rafael Torres.[4] The third man killed was Milciades Torres Pacheco.[4] A taxi-driver, Héctor Enrique Zuleta, was injured.[4] The shooters were on motorbikes.[4]

The Drummond Company has been the subject of numerous lawsuits regarding the murders of 70 union miners and railroad workers, collectively.[5][6][7] The murdered Colombians were killed by the notorious paramilitary group, United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which had been hired by Drummond to act as security.[6] In addition to those killed, a lawsuit against Drummond describes "how hundreds of men, women, and children were terrorized in their homes, on their way to and from work… innocent people killed in or near their homes or kidnapped to never to return home, their spouses and children being beaten and tied up, and people being pulled off buses and summarily executed on the spot."[6]

WikiLeaks cables regarding paramilitary forces

According to U.S. diplomatic cables sent between 2006-2010 and released by WikiLeaks, Drummond paid paramilitaries for protection of its Colombian operations. An October 2006 cable said there were significant security improvements in the northeastern region of Colombia where Drummond operates due to private security operations in the area, including roving patrols along the company's railroad from their La Loma mine to the port in Santa Marta. The cable went on to say that these private security guards were former paramilitaries. Over the course of four years U.S. Embassy officials sent 15 diplomatic cables to Washington which expressed concern over the company's labor disputes, lax environmental practices and apparent links with paramilitary death squads.[8]

A federal Court in Alabama began a civil case against Drummond in 2010 for the alleged paramilitary links, in a case that is still underway. Victims of paramilitary violence in Colombia accuse Drummond of paying the paramilitary organization the AUC between 1999 and 2005, during which time 116 civilians were murdered in the region where the coal company operates, allegedly by the right-wing militia. The civil case also seeks compensation for the relatives of several people who were murdered, which they claim was for refusing to sell their land to to make way for the company's railroad.[8]

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. Ivette E. Torres, "The Mineral Industry of Colombia", U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, December 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Drummond Company, "Colombia", Drummond company website, accessed June 2008.
  3. David Bacon, "The Colombian Connection", "In These Times", July 23, 2001.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Kirsten Begg, "Three die in Valledupar shooting", "Colombia Reports", June 8, 2009.
  5. International Rights Advocates, "Juan Aquas Romero, et al. v. Drummond Company Inc., et al.", Plaintiff's Opening Brief, December 11, 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Federal lawsuit alleges U.S. mining company Drummond paid millions to Colombian paramilitary terrorists who killed 67; including "execution" of union leaders", "Reuters", May 28, 2009.
  7. "Children of slain Colombian coal miners sue Drummond Co. in Birmingham federal court", "Birmingham News", March 20, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hannah Aronowitz, "Drummond paid Colombian paramilitaries: WikiLeaks" Colombia Reports, March 16, 2011.

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