Business / Companies

Vale sells ore ships to Chinese buyers

By Zhong Nan (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-05 08:22

Brazilian miner Vale SA will hand over three Valemax iron ore vessels to Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd in August, as it takes measures to unwind non-core assets to focus more resources on its main mining business.

Vale said last week that the company will receive $269 million after delivering these ships to the Chinese shipowner next month. It is also seeking buyers on the global market for other Valemax vessels.

The ships, also known as very large ore carriers, are about 300 meters long and able to ship up to 400,000 deadweight tons of iron ore. They are the largest commercial ships afloat in the world.

Dong Liwan, a shipping industry professor at Shanghai Maritime University, said as Vale is still dealing with issues such as debt and low prices on mining products, it is offering a considerably low price for the vessels, offering a good opportunity for Chinese companies to use less capital to purchase larger ships or a fleet.

Three Chinese companies, including ICBC Leasing, China Merchants Energy Shipping Co and China Ore Shipping Co, a subsidiary of China COSCO Shipping Corp Ltd, purchased 12 VLOCs from Vale in 2015. The total value of these ships was $1.32 billion.

"Another advantage of purchasing these mega-iron ore carriers is that they are ready-made ships and there is no need to wait for another two years to operate them," said Dong. "Besides, Chinese shipping companies are keen to gain more control over the international shipping price for iron ore, and therefore need more VLOCs to enlarge their fleets."

COSCO Shipping ordered 10 VLOCs in April from China State Shipbuilding Corp. The order is to meet a 27-year-long transportation service agreement to ship around 16 million tons of iron ore for Vale annually, after COSCO Shipping signed the agreement with Vale in March.

"Chinese shipping companies had long sought to protect their own interests by urging the government to prevent foreign VLOCs from berthing at Chinese ports," said Chen Yingming, executive vice-president of Shanghai-based China Port and Harbors Association.

"Purchasing VLOCs from Vale certainly cannot only avoid such disputes, but also boosts China's security in mining resources," said Chen.

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