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Colombia Accuses U.S. Coal Miner Of Funding Paramilitary Group

The current head of Drummond in Colombia and his predecessor will be tried on charges of financing a paramilitary group, Reuters has reported, citing the office of Colombia’s attorney general.

According to prosecutors, there was “abundant evidence” that Augusto Jimenez and Miguel Linares, who headed the company from 1990 and 2012, and from 2013 onwards, respectively, had used company funds for illicit support to a right-wing group.

"Linares Martinez and Jimenez Mejia, between 1996 and 2001, increased the value of a food provision contract with a provider company to obtain additional resources and use them to cover previously-agreed illegal obligations with...the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)," a statement by the attorney general’s office said.

The purpose of the illicit transfers was to secure mining assets operated by the company in areas where the paramilitary group had a presence.

"These accusations are not backed up with credible proof and are based, principally, on false declarations by convicted criminals, who receive payments for testimony," Drummond said in response to the news.

The U.S.-based company is the biggest producer of thermal coal in Colombia, Reuters noted in its report, with total exports of the commodity this year seen at 30 million tons by Miguel Linares.

The news of the charges against Linares and his predecessor comes a day after Drummond’s Colombian unit announced plans to become a net-zero company by 2050. Measures would include switching from gas to electricity at one mine in the country, switching from gasoline to gas for its light vehicle fleet, and emission offsets for the carbon dioxide the company cannot reduce.

"We're looking for projects to see where we can reduce our emissions, how to offset what we cannot avoid and include all our allies in a commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050," Linares told media without mentioning the price tag of the push into carbon neutrality.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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