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SAO PAULO, July 25 (Reuters) - Two soybean cargoes have recently departed from a new terminal in northeast Brazil operated by VLI and local trader Multigrain, the latest option in the region as exporters look for alternatives to Brazil's overcrowded southern ports.
A third ship carrying 27,800 tonnes of soy contracted by Multigrain is anchored in the Barra dos Coqueiros terminal in Sergipe state, according to shipping agencies and Thomson Reuters data.
The first known soy terminal in Sergipe will export just 150,000 tonnes of soy per year, but it is part of a broader trend to increase capacity and cut costs for exporters in Brazil by developing new shipping routes closer to the Panama Canal.
International giants like Glencore, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge Ltd. and ADM have inaugurated terminals in the region in recent years, as Brazil, the world's No. 2 soy producer, harvests consecutive record crops.
In May, the first ship left Barra dos Coqueiros for Russia, carrying 28,700 tonnes of soy. A second cargo, of 26,000 tonnes, was exported in July for Mitsui. Both carried non genetically modified soy.
Barras dos Coqueiros, also known as the Maritime Terminal Inacio Barbosa, consists of a concrete pier installed over two kilometers into the sea, protected by a breakwater.
"We started discussing the project with Multigrain some two years ago to export non genetically modified soybeans from western Bahia," Fabiano Lorenzi, commercial director of VLI, told Reuters.
He said VLI is the terminal operator while Multigrain holds exclusivity in the origination of soybeans exported.
VLI's stakeholders are miner Vale (37.6 percent), Brookfield (26.6 percent), Japan's Mitsui (20 percent) and FI-FGTS (15.9 percent). Mitsui has since 2011 controlled Multigrain, which did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The terminal had previously moved cargo like urea and cement and received support vessels for oil rigs operating in the region. Multigrain invested 15 million reais ($4.5 million) to adapt the terminal for soy export.
The terminal aims to export 150,000 tonnes of soybeans this year, and increase that amount "a little" in coming years, Lorenzi said.
Buyers are normally willing to pay slightly more for conventional soybeans, but the soy must be kept separate from the GMO variety.
Nearly all the soy in Brazil, the world's No. 2 soybean producer, is GMO. Just 6.5 percent of the record 2014/15 crop was conventional, according to consultancy Celeres.
$1 = 3.3 reais Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Angus MacSwan