Tugs move the
damaged Vale Beijing
last December
Singapore — 16 July 2012 – Vale Beijing, one of the world’s largest dry bulk carriers, is back in service seven months after being damaged while loading its maiden cargo, amid indications that China eventually plans to allow similar huge vessels to dock at its ports.

Reuters reports that the December 6 accident at the Brazilian port of Ponta da Madeira was a major setback for Vale SA, the world’s second-largest mining company, in its campaign to cut freight costs to China by using an unprecedented fleet of 35 Valemax very large ore carriers (VLOC).

Chinese ship-owners, who fear Vale’s large ships will push them out of the market, used the incident to successfully lobby Beijing to ban the vessels the following month because of safety concerns and their potential threat to the domestic maritime industry.

In May, however, China’s transport ministry approved plans to build berths for iron ore vessels of up to 400,000t at its eastern Ningbo-Zoushan port, an indication that Beijing may eventually lift its ban on Vale’s ships.

“We believe some ports are preparing themselves in the form of dockside equipment and dredging to be able to receive the ships without any qualifications,” said Janet Lewis, a shipping analyst with Macquarie Securities. “There seems to be some pressure from the steel industry to push for it. I think you will eventually see it allowed.”

Shipping data showed the 400,000-deadweight-tonne ship, owned and operated by STX Pan Ocean Co Ltd, was due to arrive at the Brazilian port of Ponta da Madeira on August 8 after completing repairs at a South Korean shipyard. The reason for the accident was still unclear.

“Vale Beijing underwent repairs and inspection between late April and late June and is now running smoothly,” said a spokesman for STX Pan Ocean, which is due to deliver six more mega ships by the end of 2013.

China’s ban has forced Vale to transport iron ore to China via a trans-shipment hub in the Philippines. Vale, the world’s top iron ore exporter, will also open a hub in Malaysia in 2014 and is considering projects in South Korea and Japan.

Source: Reuters. For more information, click here.