SAO PAULO, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Trading firm Trafigura and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala said on Thursday their Brazilian port for exporting iron ore will start this year, in response to a steelmaker with a contract to use the port that said the opening could be pushed back to 2015.
Porto Sudeste "is on track to start operation in the beginning of the last quarter of 2014," Eugenio Mamede, chief operating officer for the port, said in a written response to Reuters.
Trafigura owns a controlling stake in the port with Abu Dhabi government investment fund Mubadala Development Co. The export terminal located in Rio de Janeiro state will be able to handle 50 million tonnes of iron ore per year, and could expand to 100 million tonnes.
Julian Eguren, chief executive officer of Brazilian steelmaker Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA (Usiminas) , told reporters on Tuesday the port might not start until next year.
The market is watching the time frame closely as it will be a crucial outlet for mid-sized iron ore producers in Brazil to export their ore. Big projects in Brazil have been frequently delayed in the last few years. (Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)