(Adds quotes, details on northern ports)
SAO PAULO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Logistics firm Hidrovias do Brasil plans to start exporting from a new grain terminal in the Brazilian Amazon in July, serving international merchants, CEO Bruno Serapião said.
Commodities traders Noble Agri and Holland's Nidera, both controlled by Chinese food giant COFCO, as well as Multigrain, a Brazilian subsidiary of Japan's Mitsui, signed long-term contracts to use the terminal on the Tapajos river in Para state, Serapião said in an interview.
The 1.5 billion reais ($384 million) terminal in Miritituba will start receiving grains in February or March, and within five years will have the capacity to move up to 6.5 million tonnes, taking pressure off crowded southern ports, he said.
The terminal will receive soybeans trucked up from top growing state Mato Grosso on the BR-163 highway to the banks of the Tapajos river, where they will be loaded onto barges sailed along the Amazon River to the coastal port of Barcarena.
Even though BR-163 is a rough and not entirely paved road, the voyage costs less and is faster than trucking 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) from Mato Grosso to Brazil's main ports of Santos and Paranagua in the southeast, Serapião added.
"Transport by waterway is more competitive," he said, adding that all work on the BR-163 was expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Hidrovias do Brasil follows Bunge in installing a terminal in Miritituba for exports through Barcarena. Bunge has the capacity to export 4 million tonnes per year through the route.
Hidrovias do Brasil is controlled by Patria Investimentos' fund P2 Brasil, with participation from Canada's Alberto Investment Management Corporation (Aimco)and Singapore's Temasek Holdings. (Reporting by Gustavo Bonato; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Paul Simao)