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First fully laden valemax calls at Chinese port

First fully laden valemax calls at Chinese port
A fully laden 400,000-dwt VLOC has called at Dongjiakou at the Chinese port of Qingdao on 25 July, putting an end to restrictions by the authorities against the berthing of the giant ore carriers.

The latest call at Dongjiakou by valemax Sohar Max followed an earlier arrival of its sister ship Yuan Zhuo Hai at the same berth on 4 July, though Yuan Zhuo Hai was not fully laden at that time.

The valemaxes are operated by Brazil’s state-owned mining giant Vale, which has entered into pacts with state-run Chinese shipping groups to build and own the valemaxes.

The Sohar Max departed Brazil on 1 June and embarked on a 55-day voyage before reaching Dongjiakou. Yang Fengguang, general manager of Qingdao Port Dongjiakou Ore Terminal, was reported saying that the port’s facilities are fully adequate to accommodate the 400,000-dwt large ships.

In early July, China’s ministry of transport issued a statement saying that seven iron ore berths will be allowed to accommodate the VLOCs. The seven berths are at Dalian port’s Dagushan with one berth, Tangshan port’s Caofeidian with two berths, Ningbo-Zhoushan port’s Mayishan with one berth, another of Ningbo-Zhoushan port’s Shulanghu with two berths, and Qingdao port’s Dongjiakou with one berth.

The berths at Dalian’s Dagushan, Ningbo-Zhoushan’s Shulanghu, and Qingdao’s Dongjiakou are completed, with the remaining two under construction.

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.

Today, fresh pacts were sealed between Vale and two of China’s major shipping groups – China Cosco and China Merchants Energy Shipping (CMES) – over the operation of 24 VLOCs centred around a 25-year contract of affreightment (COA).