SHANGHAI, Oct 10 (Reuters) - A giant iron-ore freighter owned by Vale SA was allowed to dock at a Chinese port last week, Reuters data showed, the first since the Brazilian miner signed deals with two of China’s largest shipping groups in what was seen as a thawing of relations.
Chinese ship owners have opposed access for Vale’s mega-ships of 400,000 deadweight tons, known as the Valemax, saying they could worsen a shipping glut and steal market share. In 2012, the Ministry of Transport banned the ships from China’s ports, citing safety concerns.
But last month, Vale signed deals with state-backed firms China COSCO and China Merchants Energy Shipping in a move that marked a breakthrough in the lengthy standoff and prompted analysts to forecast that Valemax ships would soon be docking in the world’s top iron ore consumer.
The mega-ship Shandong Da Ren docked at Dongjiakou port in Qingdao, eastern China, on Oct. 2 at the start of a seven-day national holiday, and left for Singapore on Oct. 4, according to Reuters ship tracking data.
The ship, known as Vale Malaysia till the miner signed a four-ship chartering deal with Chinese state-owned Shandong Shipping Corporation last year, last docked at a Chinese port in April 2013. That marked a Valemax’s first entry since the 2012 Chinese ban though it was unclear why it had been allowed in.
China’s Ministry of Transport and Vale China did not return requests for comment when contacted by Reuters on Friday.
Vale’s inability to dock its very large iron ore carriers of at Chinese ports frustrated its attempts to reduce freight costs and compete with Australian based-rivals such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which are closer to China. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)