The first of the new Valemax very large ore carriers (VLOCs) loaded 400,000t of iron ore at the Brazilian port of Tubarao this week — spelling possible doom for Capesize shipowners. The vessel, which at over 300metres long is bigger than most skyscrapers, is part of Brazilian iron ore producer Vale’s plan to shift nearly all of its output away from the spot freight market.
A total of 36 of these behemoth 400,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) Valemaxes are already on the market, carrying 1.6mn tonnes each every year between Brazil and either China, Oman or Malaysia — from where it is shipped on to China.
Brazilian iron ore producer Vale is facing up to a new challenge as hull cracks were found on a third converted very large ore carrier (VLOC) ship it has on charter and the viability of the vessel class came under scrutiny.
But, should Vale lose faith in the VLOC fleet, the repercussions will boom throughout the market.
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