HK's Anglo-Eastern picked to run first 'Chinamax' ship

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am

A Hong Kong ship management company is overseeing the day-to-day operation of the first in a series of 'Chinamax' ultra-large dry bulk cargo ships that are the biggest of their kind in the world.

The 400,000 deadweight tonne ships, which have more than double the cargo carrying capacity of a traditional 180,000 deadweight tonne capesize bulk carrier, have been dubbed Chinamax because they are the largest dry cargo ships afloat that can be handled by mainland ports.

The vessels will be used to transport iron ore from Brazil to China.

Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Services is providing the 22 crew and technical management for the first of the ships, the Vale Brasil, which is on its maiden voyage to Brazil after being delivered in March, about a month ahead of schedule.

The 360 metre long and 65 metre wide ship is the first of seven vessels that are being built by South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering for Brazilian iron ore miner, Vale. The ships, which will cost about US$130 million each, will be delivered between now and 2013.

Vale also has 12 similar-sized ore carriers on order at China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group at a total cost of US$1.6 billion. The first of these ships was due to be delivered by last month, but the arrival has been delayed until at least August, although sources at a ship safety organisation said delivery may not take place until November.

Despite the record-breaking size of the Vale Brasil and its sister ships, Vale has given a muted response to their arrival. The Brazilian company excluded the media from the Vale Brasil's naming ceremony and has stopped Anglo-Eastern from talking about the ultra-large ore carriers.

Anglo-Eastern is on course to manage all seven of the ships built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and some of the vessels constructed by China Rongsheng. This would continue a relationship that started almost two years ago when Anglo-Eastern was chosen by Vale to manage three capesize bulk carriers, varying in size between 150,000 and 169,000 deadweight tonnes.

These ships, together with Vale Brasil, are owned by Vale Shipping Holding in Singapore, while Vale in Brazil operates a further 16 dry cargo ships.

Part of the reason for Vale's publicity shyness is thought to be because of the political sensitivity of its iron ore shipments into China, even though the mainland is Vale's largest market.

Vale generated 33.1 per cent, equivalent to US$15.38 billion, of its US$46.48 billion operating revenues last year from exporting 126.4 million tonnes of iron ore and ore pellets to China.

All the Chinamax vessels are being built specifically for the Brazil-China iron ore trade and because of their size would find it difficult to operate to other countries.

Vale has two ore pelletising joint ventures on the mainland. One is a US$95 million pelletising plant developed in partnership with Anyang Iron & Steel Group, which began operating this month.

The company also has a 25 per cent stake in Zhuhai YPM, which owns a pelletising plant in part of the Yueyufeng steel making complex in Zhuhai. Other partners are Zhuhai Yueyufeng Iron and Steel and Pioneer Iron & Steel Group.

But the company has also faced challenges in China since the surge in iron ore prices, fuelled by the mainland's property and infrastructure boom. These difficulties included the rejection of Vale's plans to build a strategic iron ore stockpile in China, which led the Brazilian company to instead decide to move the concept to Malaysia.

High roller

Brazilian mining giant Vale has ordered 19 of the ultra-large carriers, which in US dollars each cost: $130m

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