Colombia's government renewed a coal production and marketing accord with Brazilian conglomerate Votorantim Group's local unit, which has operated in the central province of Boyaca since 1989.

The Mines and Energy Ministry said Thursday in a statement that the contract was extended for at least 26 years after talks that also involved the National Mining Agency

The agreement includes a hike in the government's royalty rate from 10 percent to 15 percent for production of 2.5 million tons of coal or less. That rate climbs to 19 percent when output climbs to roughly 8 million tons of coal.

Votorantim's Minas Paz del Rio unit, for its part, pledged to invest in technology to increase production from 200,000 tons of coal annually to 2.5 million tons in 2020.

Under the agreement, the company also must earmark at least 1 percent of its operating profits - an amount typically no less than 720 million pesos ($407,249) - for social investments in mining areas.

The company also promised to formally hire more than 400 miners and commit to paying environmental fines that are steeper under the new accord.

As part of the negotiations, Minas Paz del Rio also agreed to contribute to construction of a 910-kilometer (565-mile) railway linking coal mines in Cundinamarca, Boyaca and Santander provinces with the main rail line to Caribbean ports, a $2.06 billion public-private project aimed at boosting exports. EFE