It would have been almost funny, if billions of dollars were not at stake. As we posted last June, the Vale Brasil, first of the Valemax class of Very Large Ore Carriers (VLOC) sailed on its maiden voyage with 391,000 tons of iron ore for China, only to be turned away. Vale S.A., the world’s largest iron ore producer, is building a fleet of 35 of the largest ore ships the world has ever seen specifically for the China trade, but China would not grant permission for the huge ships to call at Chinese ports. Now, the first of the Valemax VLOCs has finally unloaded a cargo in China. The Berge Everest, a Valemax ship owned by Berge Bulk Ltd and chartered to Vale, discharged what is reported to be a full cargo in the China’s Port of Dalian and has now sailed for Singapore.
Giant Vale ship completes maiden journey to China
Of the 35 Valemax ships either delivered or under construction, Vale planned on owning 19 ships and chartering in 16 owned by other ship operators. Recently Vale has reportedly sold four of its Valemax ships to other owners with provisions for long terms charter back by Vale.
Vale has faced stiff opposition by both Chinese shipowners and the steel industry. Both groups were concerned that the new fleet of ships would give the Brazilian mining company too much market control. Vale’s efforts to enter the China market were also set back by reports of structural failures on the maiden voyage of the Vale Beijing.