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China-owned valemax anchored off Qingdao, set to call at port

China-owned valemax anchored off Qingdao, set to call at port
A 400,000-dwt valemax, owned by China Ore Shipping, has arrived off the coast of China’s Qingdao on Tuesday and is expected to call at Dongjiakou port, local reports said, signalling an end to earlier opposition voices from China to disallow valemaxes into the country.

The valemax Yuan Zhuo Hai now anchored off Qingdao is one of four secondhand VLOCs owned by China Ore Shipping, a Singapore-based joint venture of China Cosco Holdings and China Shipping Development Co (CSDC).

The four valemaxes were acquired at a cost of $445m from Brazil’s mining giant Vale for its charter under a 25-year contract of affreightment (COA), including a five-year extension option.

China Cosco has also sealed a pact with Vale where the former will built 10 VLOCs for the Brazilian state-owned firm.

The latest voyage by Yuan Zhuo Hai to Qingdao followed a cooperation agreement inked late last year between Vale’s port terminal Ponta da Madeira and Qingdao port on increasing the handling of iron ore between the two terminals.

While China’s ministry of transport has yet to officially announce that valemaxes will be allowed to call at Chinese ports, the latest development points to an eventual lifting of the valemax restriction in the country.

In February this year, the ministry issued a statement outlining the guidelines for the design and scale of such 400,000 dwt mega-sized bulk carriers. An analyst from Shanghai International Shipping Institute (SISI) believed the transport ministry’s next step would be to determine which ports can accommodate the berthing of VLOCs according to the measurement guidelines, and ultimately allow valemaxes to dock at Chinese ports.

Back in December 2011, the first valemax Berge Everest called at Dalian port, and triggered a backlash from the powerful China Shipowners’ Association (CSA). The association argued that the large valemaxes did not meet China’s operational safety and port regulatory standards, and criticised Brazil’s mining firm Vale for trying to monopolise the seaborne transportation of iron ore sold to China.

Apart from the pact between China Cosco-CSDC and Vale, another leading Chinese enterprise China Merchants Energy Shipping will also order 10 VLOCs for charter to Vale, pointing to the thawing relationships between the leading Chinese state-run shipping firms and Vale.