BOGOTA Jan 23 (Reuters) - A new 22-million-tonne-capacity Colombian coal port by Glencore International PLC's Prodeco unit should be ready in the next "few months", the government said on Wednesday.
Two of Colombia's top three coal exporters, Prodeco and Drummond International, are building new Caribbean ports to expand capacity as they ramp up production and because of a change in rules requiring upgrades to how coal is put on ships.
"We just met with (Glencore Chief Executive) Ivan Glasenberg. He said that the Prodeco port in Santa Marta will be ready in a few months," Mauricio Cardenas, the finance minister and a former mining minister, said in a message on Twitter.
Prodeco is Colombia's third-largest coal exporter and is planning to double production to around 21 million tonnes by 2015. The Andean nation's other top producers are also increasing output and expanding their infrastructure.
Prodeco's "Puerto Nuevo" harbor will have an initial capacity of 22 million tonnes per year and its construction had been expected to be completed in the first half of this year, according to the company's website.
Colombia, the world's No. 4 coal exporter, has seen a boom in investment, especially in the oil and mining sectors. Its high-quality thermal coal production is dominated by Glencore's Prodeco, Cerrejon and Drummond.
Colombian coal ports are supposed to upgrade to become direct loading by 2014. Drummond is also building a port that is right next to Prodeco's harbor.
Cerrejon's port is already direct loading.