(Photo: Vanguardia)

Cerrejon Mining announced Monday that 200 workers will soon see their employment terminated as the company temporarily lowers operating rates. 

The workers were staffed at the company’s signature El Cerrejon coal mine, in the northeastern coastal state of La Guajira. Due to its location, the mine, one of the largest producers of coal in Colombia, the fourth largest global exporter, suffers from acute dry spells and, consequently, damaging levels of coal dust.

According to a statement released by the company Monday, Cerrejon will be forced to let the workers go in order to meet with environmental commitments established for December 2013 – April 2014. However of those workers who will have their contracts reviewed during the cut, 60% will reportedly keep their jobs.

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Cerrejon said it will also be implementing new measures, such as high intensity sprinklers and fog canons, to counteract the lack of rain.

One of the largest coal mines in Colombia, Cerrejon currently employs 10,000 people, of which over 99% are Colombian nationals. According to the press release, the company will be re-hiring in May with those who lose their jobs given first priority.

A 32-day strike organized by the company’s Sintracarbon union cost Cerrejon an estimated $96 million in losses. The work stoppage was resolved with an agreement that gave workers a one-time bonus of $7,000 and a 5.1% pay rise for the first year, followed by inflation-based increases for the following two years.

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So far, Colombia Reports has been unable to reach anyone within Sintracarbon for comment on the cuts.


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