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SAO PAULO, July 31 (Reuters) - The Brazilian arm of U.S. commodities trader Archer Daniels Midland Co received final government approval to ship soybeans and corn from its new terminal at the mouth of the Amazon, Brazil's official gazette said.
The terminal outside Belem in Para state will have an initial annual capacity of 1.5 million tonnes of grain and will expand to 6 million tonnes per year by 2016, taking pressure off Brazil's crowded southern shipping routes.
"The first trucks are already unloading soy," ADM said in a statement on Thursday.
Of the initial volume, 80 percent will move on waterways, mostly from Porto Velho, Rondonia, in Brazil's interior. The rest will be trucked in until a railway is finished.
The company said the new route will shave 34 percent off its freight costs from shipping out of Brazil's main port of Santos, thousands of kilometers south.
ADM received approval for terminal use from waterway regulator Antaq last month in what it said was the first contract awarded under Brazil's new port law, which was passed in 2013 in an attempt to draw more private investment.
Rivals Bunge and Cargill also plan to increase exports through northern Brazil, and dozens of companies are expected to follow as Brazil prepares to plant what could be yet another record soybean crop. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Grant McCool)