The Port of Tubarão in Vitória has received Vale Rio de Janeiro, a Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) which is capable of transporting 400,000 metric tons of iron ore. The docking of this vessel marks the first stage in Vale’s project in Espírito Santo to receive the world’s largest ore carriers.
Vale has been studying maneuvers by 400,000-metric-ton ships at Tubarão since 2008, with technical support from the Espírito Santo Port Authority. A simulator was used to study ship behavior during maneuvers. In this way, it was possible to learn about and analyze shipping conditions, ensuring that all operations will be safe.
This is the third voyage made by Vale Rio de Janeiro, which has so far docked at the ports of Ponta da Madeira, in Maranhão, Brazil; Taranto, in Italy; and Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. After Tubarão, the ship’s destination will be the Port of Sohar in Oman.
Vale Rio de Janeiro, which was built for Vale by the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company in South Korea, is 362 meters long and 65 meter wide. It is part of an order placed at Chinese and South Korean shipyards for 35 ships, some owned by Vale, others chartered, to be delivered by 2013, and to operate exclusively for the company.
The VLOCs with the capacity of transporting 400,000 tons are part of Vale’s logistics solution for connecting the company’s maritime terminals in Brazil to its Asian and European customers. The objectives are to maximize operational efficiency, reduce the cost of transporting iron ore across the seas to steel mills, and contribute to cutting carbon emissions per ton of ore transported.
Adapting ports to receive the giant ore carriers is a highly technical issue requiring detailed engineering studies and, in many cases, additional investment to train operators, reinforce berths, and conduct dredging. At the moment, Vale’s VLOCs can dock without problems at maximum capacity at the ports of Ponta de Madeira, Sohar, Taranto, and Rotterdam.
Besides Tubarão, in Espírito Santo, various Asian ports are also being prepared to receive these ships. In February 2012, Vale will start operations at its ore transfer station in Subic Bay in the Philippines, and in 2014, operations are expected to begin at a new port and distribution center in Malaysia. The full use of the fleet of 35 ships, the last of which will be built by the end of 2013, is assured through solutions already implemented or in the implementation process.
World Maritime News Staff, February 1, 2012;