Vale, Dalian Port seek to deepen ties after shipping ban
Thursday, 16 February 2012 | 11:00
China's Dalian Port said it was seeking more cooperation with Brazil's Vale, appearing to reach out to the world's largest iron ore producer after Beijing banned its giant ships from docking in China last month.
In a recent statement posted on its website, the northeastern port said it hopes to "further strengthen communication and continue to deepen cooperation to obtain a win-win situation" with Vale.
The statement followed a visit last week by Jose Martins, Vale's director for ferrous metals and strategy.
China is the world's largest iron ore importer, and Vale is spending billions of dollars on a fleet of giant ore carriers, called Valemaxes, to slash transport costs and speed up shipments to its top customer.
But the miner's plans have collided with stiff opposition from the influential China Shipowners' Association, which fears the mega vessels will harm the domestic shipping industry.
The association's protests led the transport ministry to ban in January the Valemaxes, and any other dry bulk ships that exceed 350,000 tonnes, from entering Chinese ports.
Dalian allowed the first, and so far only, Valemax to dock in the country on Dec. 28, but despite its apparent overtures, the port cannot overturn the ban on giant vessels without the permission of the Beijing government.
Industry sources say the entry of Vale's 388,000-tonne Berge Everest was likely due to an administrative fluke at Dalian since the port was, at the time, able to bypass the central government for safety approvals.
In its statement, the port said it had upgraded facilities at its 300,000-tonne iron ore berth to meet "the requirements for large-sized vessels to dock as well as the needs for transshipment."
But the port did not give any details, and it remains unclear whether the Beijing government will allow it to receive vessels based on the upgraded capacity.
Vale is scheduled to start a transshipment iron ore distribution centre in the Philippines this week and is also building another terminal in Malaysia that would be ready by 2014, taking a more costly route to bring iron ore to China.
The miner is also ploughing ahead with its plans to build more Valemaxes.
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