San Juan Mine (Colombia)

From Global Energy Monitor


This article is part of the Global Coal Mine Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

San Juan Mine is a proposed coal mine located south of the Cerrejon coal mine[1] in the municipality of San Juan del Cesar within La Guajira Department of Colombia.


The satellite photo below shows the approximate location of the San Juan Mine, located to the south of the Cerrejon coal mine in La Guajira Department, Colombia.

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Alongside the Cañaverales Mine and Papayal Mine, the San Juan underground mine was initially a part of the Brazilian-owned MPX Project.

In early 2012, MPX spun off its Colombian coal assets to create a new subsidiary called CCX.[2]

According to a November 2013 article in Coal Age magazine, the MPX port (described in the article as Puerto MPX or Puerto CCX) "was one of the pet projects of Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista. It was intended to have a throughput capacity of 30 million tons. The final harbor depth of 69 ft would accommodate vessels of up to 180,000 DWT. The port (Puerto MPX) would be located a few miles east of Santa Marta on the Caribbean Sea at Dibulla. It was intended to serve three CCX mines (Cañaverales, Papayal and San Juan) near the towns of San Juan de Cesar, Fonseca and Barrancas. During Phase I (first two years), coal would be hauled by 35- to 50-ton trucks (tractomulas) on Highway 88 to Cuestecita, then straight west through La Florida to Puerto MPX at Dibulla. In Phase II, a new CCX railroad would begin hauling the coal produced in the new longwall mine, San Juan."[3]

In 2012, after suffering catastrophic losses in failed energy investments elsewhere, MPX/CCX owner Batista "had to sell off many of his assets and companies, including his two Colombian surface mining reserves, Cañaverales and Papayal. This left CCX with only one mineable reserve, an underground property known as San Juan slated for longwall operation.... Total asset value of CCX CARVAO on August 30 was $429.2 million, far short of the $5.5 billion required to develop the remaining coal reserve, San Juan underground. At that same time, Natalia Gutierrez, energy and mining vice minister, said the project is now 'on standby.'"[3]

In 2013, Batista announced his intention to sell CCX for approximately $450 million to the Turkish conglomerate Yıldırım Group.[4] By the time the sale was concluded in early 2014, the selling price had dropped to $125 million.[5] CCX listed the assets sold to Yildirim as follows: the "flagship San Juan underground mine, including 671.8 million tonnes of reserves as well as railway and port infrastructure, the Canaverales and Papayal open-pit mines, which hold 27.3 million and 15.6 million tonnes of coal, respectively." Shortly after the sale, Yildirim Holding announced its intention to move forward aggressively with plans to export coal from the newly acquired Colombian mines to its coal-fired power plants in Turkey, with all sea cargo arrangements to be handled by Yildirim.[6]

In October 2015, less than a month after CCX announced that key elements of the sale had been approved by relevant Colombian government agencies[7], Yildirim announced its intention to back out of the agreement, citing CCX's non-compliance with original conditions of the sale.[8]

However, the purchase was ultimately finalized in September of 2016. According to Yildirim's 2016 annual report, the CCX project was rebranded under the new name "Best Coal Company" (BCC). Yildirim's report noted that as of 2016, 34 km of drilling and a seismic exploration campaign had been completed.[9]

In its 2017 annual report, Yildirim stated that feasibility updates were planned for San Juan in 2018 and that it was "targeted to be ready for production within the year of 2018." The report projected an initial production capacity of 10 million tonnes per annum for all of Yildirim's Colombian coal holdings combined, with an anticipated peak production of 35 million tpa.[10] A separate 2014 report estimated annual production capacities of 2.5 million tpa each for Yildirim's other two Colombian coal projects - Cañaverales and Papayal[11] - which implies an annual capacity of 5 to 30 million tpa for the San Juan project.

Outside evaluators say that San Juan is expected to be the largest underground mine in Colombia upon completion and will consist of approximately 60% thermal coal and 40% Pulverized coal injection (PCI). As of mid-2018, the mine was expected to begin operations in 2021.[1]

In its 2019 annual report, Yildirim A.S. announced that it expected to finalize its assessment of options for reducing initial investment in the San Juan mine within the first quarter of 2020, and would thereafter initiate the EIA process and present the project to the relevant Colombian ministries. Yildirim's report identified the San Juan underground mine as BCC's largest project, encompassing 672 million tonnes of coal reserves with a calorific value of 6,300 kcal/kg.[12]

Project Details

  • Owner: BCC (Best Coal Company)[9]
  • Parent company: Yıldırım Group[9]
  • Location: San Juan del Cesar, Departamento de La Guajira, Colombia
  • GPS coordinates: 10.7691665,-73.0183361 (approximate)
  • Mine status: proposed
  • Start year: 2021 (estimated)[1]
  • Mineable reserves: 672 million tonnes[13][12]
  • Coal type:
  • Mine size:
  • Mine type: Underground[1]
  • Production: 5 million tonnes (initial, estimated); 30 million tonnes (peak, estimated)
  • Additional proposed production:
  • Equipment: "Single ramp using two conveyors"[1]
  • Number of employees:

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Wood Mackenzie San Juan coal mine Asset Report summary, August 30, 2018
  2. "MPX to spin off coal assets, create CCX", BN Americas, January 12, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Colombian Coal Prepares for Canal Expansion", Coal Age, November 22, 2013.
  4. "Batista to Sell Colombia Coal Mines to Yildirim for $450 Million", Bloomberg, October 29, 2013.
  5. "Brazil's Eike Batista Slashes Price on Colombian Mining Projects", Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2014.
  6. "Yildirim all set to splash out $500m on bulkers", Trade Winds, March 7, 2014.
  7. "CCX Carvao da Colombia : Disclosure Update Regarding the Transaction With Yildirim", 4-Traders, September 28, 2015
  8. "Turcos reversan compra de CCX", El Pilón, October 13, 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Yildirim Group of Companies 2017 Goals and Expectations 2016 Annual Report, accessed Nov. 4, 2019
  10. Yildirim Group of Companies 2018 Goals and Expectations 2017 Annual Report, accessed Nov. 7, 2019
  11. "No prospera la venta de activos de CCX en Colombia - Mineria Pan-Americana". Mineria Pan-Americana. June 10, 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "2019 Annual Report" (PDF). Yildirim Group. January 2020.
  13. BN Americas Colombia greenlights CCX to explore, negotiate San Juan coal project databse, July 29, 2015

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