Vale reported in early May 2011 it had taken delivery of the Vale Brasil, the world’s largest ore carrier: 362 m long, 65 m wide, with capacity to carry 400,000 mt of iron ore. On May 24, the Vale Brasil was loaded with 391,000 mt of iron ore at the Ponta da Madeira port terminal in São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil, in preparation for a trip to Asia.
The Vale Brasil was built in South Korea by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and is the first of seven such ore carriers ordered by Vale from the South Korean shipyard, totaling an investment of $748 million. Vale has dubbed the vessels the “Valemax” class of ore carrier.
Vale has also ordered 12 Valemax ore carriers from the Rongsheng Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries shipyard in China, an investment valued at $1.6 billion.
Besides these 19 Valemax ore carriers being built for Vale’s own account, the company will also have the use of 16 other ships of the same dimensions that will operate exclusively for the company under long-term contracts with ship-owner partners.
This total of 35 Valemax ore carriers will be delivered between 2011 and 2013.
In announcing delivery of the first vessel in the Valemax fleet, Vale’s statement commented that highly efficient logistics are a key element to competitiveness in the iron ore market and the company is developing various initiatives to obtain economies of scale. The Valemax ore carriers are part of the logistical solution for moving iron ore from the company’s maritime terminals in Brazil to its Asian customers. The ore carriers have a high standard of safety and will contribute to reducing the cost of long-haul maritime transportation.
“With our own fleet and chartered ships, we reduce exposure to volatility in the freight market. Volatility doesn’t only affect freight costs but also the price of ore. As the new ships start to operate, stability of freight and ore costs will become even greater, helping Vale and its steel industry clients,” said Vale executive director of marketing, sales and strategy José Carlos Martins.