During the late 1980's, Drummond Ltd. acquired the mining rights to the La Loma coal, located in northern Colombia. Development commenced in the early 1990’s. The Drummond Ltd. Colombian operation includes Mina Pribbenow, an open-pit coal mine located in the Cesar Coal Basin near La Loma, Puerto Drummond, a deep-water ocean port on the Caribbean Sea near Santa Marta, and coal transportation and handling facilities. On July 26 - after a two-week trial - a federal jury in Alabama dismissed charges that Drummond had contracted hit men to kill three union leaders in Colombia. The suit against Drummond was brought in 2002 by relatives of the slain union leaders. Here is Drummond's statement on the verdict:
This day has been a long-time coming. We are pleased with the jury's verdict and appreciate their time and attention to this case.
We have waited for five years for the opportunity to demonstrate what we knew all along, that the charges against our company and president of Drummond Ltd., Augusto Jimenez, as well as the accusations against our employees, were false.
The truth has always been that we have had a good working relationship with our union workers and their leadership. Any business that deals with unions as we do understands the value these groups bring to the work force they represent and the tactics associated with labor negotiations. At the end of the day, we all want what is best for the business and the people that make it work.
The tragic events at the center of this case are indeed unfortunate and of great concern to us. Since we began operations in Colombia we have had a long standing policy not to have contact with or pay any money to illegal groups and to stay out of the internal conflict there. We will continue to abide by this policy moving forward. We will, likewise, continue to support the ongoing investigation(s) by Colombian authorities so that the parties responsible for the deaths of these union leaders may be brought to justice.
Most importantly, we look forward to the continued focus on our customers and our people. Our ongoing mission in Colombia includes serving as a catalyst for economic growth, opportunity and social stability for our employees, their families, the communities in which we work, and for Colombian society in general.
We thank those who have supported us throughout this process – our employees, our families and our customers – as well as our legal team. We will continue to operate in a way that makes each of them proud.