UPDATE 1-Vale says giant Valemax ships gain access to Asian ports

Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:08pm EDT
 
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* Valemax ship that docked in China was no fully loaded

* Vale opened second floating transfer ship in Philippines

* Malaysia on-land ore distribution center to open in 2014

By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 25 (Reuters) - Brazil's Vale SA said it has increased access of its "Valemax" iron ore carriers to Asian ports and has even docked one of its ships in China where a ban on the giant vessels has been in effect for more than a year.

The Vale Malaysia docked at China's port of Lianyungang April 15 and left April 17 after unloading its cargo, Reuters reported on April 18. The 402,285 deadweight tonne (dwt) ship, one of the world's largest bulk freighters, was only partly loaded, Jose Carlos Martins said on Thursday.

Martins made the comments in a conference call to discuss Vale's first quarter financial results, released late Wednesday. Profit fell 18 percent in the quarter from a year earlier but beat expectations.

The company is counting on the giant ships to help slash costs of shipping ore to China, the world's largest iron ore market, and compete with Australian rivals BHP Billiton Plc and Rio Tinto Plc, whose mines are closer to Chinese customers.

China banned the Brazilian miner's mega ships in early 2012 over alleged safety concerns. Most of the vessels were built in China with Chinese government finance. A Korean-built Valemax developed a hull crack on its maiden voyage.   Continued...