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Vale has completed the first delivery of its new super-size carriers to China, the latest move by the Brazilian miner to ramp up pressure on its Australian rivals.
The new ship is an attempt by Vale to lower transport costs to the Chinese market, where BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto enjoy a significant advantage because of Australia’s close proximity.
Vale has ordered 35 of the world’s largest bulk carriers, six of which are already on the water, at an estimated cost of $4.2 billion.
The miner’s decision to build and own the ships itself has had major ramifications on the global shipping industry, which has benefitted from the resources boom’s increased demand.
According to Reuters Vale had been trying since June 2011 to get approval from Chinese authorities to use its megaships, which carry a load of around 400,000 tonnes.
Chinese ship-owners have lobbied the Government to block the new vessels, and Fairfax Media reports China’s Ministry of Transport is still considering whether to allow future dockings.
Chinese shipowners and steelmakers oppose the mega-vessels on the grounds Vale may use them to monopolise the shipping and iron ore markets.
A previous mega-ship, the Vale Beijing, was damaged while loading its first cargo in Brazil in December.