BHP releases online shipping platform

BHP Billiton has released an online auctioning platform for shippers to offer the best haulage price for commodities such as iron ore.

The company hopes the platform will help reduce costs as it avoids brokers who usually negotiate vessel-hire rates between shippers and cargo owners, Reuters reports.

It could also alter the way mining companies contract freight services.

The system is thought to be the first of its kind for a major charterer, although similar platforms have used by companies such as Ocean Freight Exchange.

BHP held its first cargo auction using the platform this week, where 13 ship owners and operators – including Japanese-based Mistui OSK – submitted bids to ship 170,000 tonnes of iron ore from Western Australia through to China in February.

Company spokesperson Angela Perera said they received more than 50 submissions within an hour, with the final price nearly 30c below the spot price.

The winning bidder was not identified.

The platform, however, could affect the ship broking industry, as an anonymous source from French company Barry Rogliano Salles said, “If BHP finds its workable, maybe Rio Tinto and FMG (Fortescue Metals Group) would do online auctions as well which will affect almost all brokers in the market.”

In the year to June 30, BHP spent $US764 million ($A1 billion) shipping 275 million tonnes of iron ore from WA globally.

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