Vale sells Colombian thermal coal assets to Goldman Sachs unit for $407mn

Brazilian mining giant Vale yesterday said that it had completed the sale of its thermal coal assets in Colombia to a unit of privately-held Colombian Natural Resources, a mining company wholly-owned by Goldman Sachs, for $407 million in cash.

Under a deal signed last month, Vale agreed to sell 100 per cent of its thermal coal mine in El Hatillo and the Cerro Largo deposit in the department of Cesar, and its port terminal Sociedad Portuaria Rio Córdoba on the Caribbean coast.

The Rio de Janeiro -based mining giant had acquired the Colombian thermal coal's assets for about $306 million in 2008.

The El Hatillo open pit mine has proven reserves of 32.7 metric tones and produced 3.56 metric tonnes in 2011, which is 80 per cent of Vale's total thermal coal output.

Vale, the world's second-largest mining company after BHP Billiton, will also sell its 8.43-per cent stake in the Ferrocarriles Del Norte de Colombia, which operates the railway between the mines and the terminal.

Colombia is the world's 10th largest producer and sixth largest exporter of coal. The country also has the largest reserve base in South America with an estimated 7 billion metric tons of recoverable reserves and 17 billion metric tons of potential reserves.