The second largest port in China will require at least two years for expanding its sea lanes to be used by huge iron ore carriers from Vale, Brazil, said an executive, raising more delays for mining if Beijing decides to place a ban on the ships.
China is the world’s largest buyer of iron ore and Vale’s largest customer.
In January, Chinese shipping companies persuaded Beijing to ban the entry of huge Valemax ships due to security concerns and their possible impact on local shipping firms already operating at a loss.
It forced the closure of the route for the leading global miner of iron ore, forcing it to take a more expensive path to deliver exports through a transshipment center in the Philippines.
A senior executive of Vale said in March that he believed that China would allow Valemax vessels, each with a capacity of 400,000 tonnes of iron ore, to dock in a few months and in May the Chinese Ministry of Transportation gave permission to the eastern port of Ningbo-Zoushan to build berths capable of receiving Vale vessels.
However, the Transport Ministry’s decision is not final and, before they start building the berths, this requires the approval of the local government and the National Development and Reform Commission, said Wu Jinkun, President of Ningbo Port Company Limited.
If the project obtains all necessary permits, construction of berths will require several years, said Wu.
“Of course we hope that we can be the first port (to receive Valemax ships) …but the construction will require at least two or three years.
“To build a 400,000 tonne mooring we have some problems – for example, the depth of the waterway,” said Wu.