Tuesday, January 31st 2012 - 23:51 UTC

China bars Brazil’s bulk carriers from its ports; clash over iron ore shipping rates

China banned a giant new class of ship from its ports on Tuesday, a move that checks efforts by mining giant Vale SA to cut the cost of shipping iron ore to its largest market and risks raising trade tensions with Brazil.

Valemaxes are the Brazilian corporation effort to compete with Australian suppliers Billiton and Rio Tinto

China's trade ministry said it had banned Vale's 400.000-deadweight-ton “Valemax” vessels, along with other giant freighters and tankers, to protect its own ocean-freight industry. Plunging shipping rates have slashed shipping company revenue.

The China Shipowners Association and major steelmakers have said the Valemaxes, some of the largest ships afloat, could be a “Trojan horse”, allowing Vale to hold out the promise of lower transport costs as a cover for what they see as its true goal: dominance of the world iron-ore market.

Vale is the world's No. 2 miner and provides more than a quarter of all seaborne trade in iron ore, the main ingredient in steel. China is the world's largest steelmaker.

The giant ships are a key part of Vale's efforts to compete with Australian miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, whose mines are closer to China, the biggest iron-ore consumer.

China's decision suggests Vale may have made an unwise and costly investment in one of the most talked-about shipbuilding ventures of the past decade.

No Chinese ports have regulatory approval to receive dry bulk carriers of more than 300.000 tonnes. The Dec. 28 arrival of the Berge Everest, a 388.000-deadweight-tonne Valemax, in China's port of Dalian carrying Vale ore from Brazil was probably a bureaucratic fluke, shipping industry sources said.

The Berge Everest was the first Valemax to visit a Chinese port. Vale and shipping company partners with long-term contracts are building 35 of the Valemax giants for an estimated 4.2 billion dollars in Korean and Chinese shipyards.

“This is really weird especially since most of them have been built or are going to be built in China,” said Bernardo Lobao, steel and mining analyst at Studio Investimentos, a Rio de Janeiro-based investment fund.

“This is a real tug-of-war and China is playing very tough,” he added. “China's attitude is pretty amazing when you consider that Vale went against its own government that wanted the ships built in Brazil and decided instead to build them in China to please its steelmaking clients.”

7 comments Feed

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1 Conqueror (#) Feb 01st, 2012 - 11:34 am Report abuse
Oh dear. Some South American ships being banned from another country's ports. What a shame.......not!
2 GeoffWard2 (#) Feb 01st, 2012 - 12:08 pm Report abuse
The real joke is that the ('Brasilian') Vale vessels are built in China, the very country that is banning them!


But at least it ensures that the protocols for assessing and ensuring vessel integrity in extreme weather situations can be examined, and upgraded as necessary.

The bottom line is that there is some size that is 'too big' - defining too big is hard as it must second-guess 'perfect storm' conditions; anything else is coersive power-politics.
3 ChrisR (#) Feb 05th, 2012 - 01:21 pm Report abuse
Brasil have already had a hull rip on one of their latest bulkers.

If the chinese bulkers don't suffer the same failure it will put the Brasil yard under real pressure.

Simple question: would you buy a big bulker from a yard that had failures?

No, I didn't think so.
4 GeoffWard2 (#) Feb 05th, 2012 - 06:05 pm Report abuse
The Valemax ships are a fleet of very large ore carriers (VLOC) chartered by the Brazilian mining company Vale S.A. to carry iron ore from Brazil to European and Asian ports.

The Chinamax ships with a capacity ranging from 380,000 to 400,000 tons deadweight are the largest bulk carriers ever built and among the longest ships currently in service.

In 2008 Vale placed orders for twelve 400,000-ton Valemax ships to be constructed by Jiangsu Rongsheng Heavy Industries (RSHI) in China,
and ordered seven more ships from South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (the world leader in state of the art bulk carrier build. GW) in 2009.

In addition sixteen more ships of similar size are being built in China and South Korea for other shipping companies, and chartered to Vale under long-term contracts.

In late 2011 Vale decided to sell the ships it planned to own by itself to other shipping companies and charter them back.

The first Valemax vessel, Vale Brasil, was delivered in 2011 and all 35 ships are expected to be in service by 2013 (unlikely. GW).

Lula publicly criticized Vale's former CEO Roger Agnelli for the decision to order ships from Asian shipyards instead of building them in Brazil, where he had been trying to revitalize the shipbuilding industry to create more jobs and increase local demand for steel and other products. Agnelli, who later left his position following continued criticism, replied that the Brazilian shipyards did not have the capacity to build such ships and stated that during the past few years Vale had commissioned 51 vessels from Brazilian shipyards (Brasil still does not have this 'Max-build' capability. GW).
5 ChrisR (#) Feb 06th, 2012 - 10:41 am Report abuse
4 GeoffWard2

You can understand why Dilma is backtracking from some of Lula's positions.

He made a bit of a foolish comment if his own yards could not build the vessels.

Brasil needs to bottom out the design of the 'biggest bulk carrier made in a Brasil Yard' after the hull ripped on sea trials. The Chinese are presently putting it right (Shipbuiding Tribune).
6 Fido Dido (#) Feb 08th, 2012 - 03:25 am Report abuse
Agnelli, who later left his position following continued criticism, replied that the Brazilian shipyards did not have the capacity to build such ships and stated that during the past few years Vale had commissioned 51 vessels from Brazilian shipyards (Brasil still does not have this 'Max-build' capability. GW).

Ahh Geoff, there you go again with your Brazil does not have the capability BS, even after I and Forget sent you the links about the shipyards and capabilities. You refused to read it because it doesn't fit your “superior” mindset.

You know damn well and yourself argued that it was a good idea, that the ships would be built overseas because of the costs, though Vale got a loan from BNDS with lower rates.

(Brasil still does not have this 'Max-build' capability. GW).

You know yourself that you're typing BS out of your ass as usual. It does have the capabilities but you just can't stand it, just as you tried to hard here with your comments that Brazil never had nor does have a shipyard. You're so pathetic...my god.
7 ChrisR (#) Feb 08th, 2012 - 04:33 pm Report abuse
6Fido Dido

Please provide evidence to support your claim as I cannot find any after Industrias Verolme Ishibras in the ship-yard of Brazil Estaleiros S.A. who built an ore carrier with a summer deadweight of 310,698 metric tons and gross tonnage of 159,534 gross tons closed.

Note that the ship was only approx 75% capacity of the Valemax units.

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