Brazil: Dredging Allows Port of Tubarão to Handle Bigger Ships

Following dredging work and adjustments to its pier, the Port of Tubarão is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday, May 22, its first operation to fully load a Valemax ship, the world’s largest iron ore carrier, with total capacity of 400,000 metric tons.

It will be the biggest loading operation in the 47-year history of the Port of Tubarão, beating its previous record, set in 2002 when the ship Berge Stahl was loaded with 335,088 metric tons of iron ore.

Following the dredging work, the depth of the port’s shipping channel has increased from 22.5 to 25.3 metres, making it possible to load ships with a draft (the vertical distance between the water surface and the lowest part of the ship) of up to 23 metres. The dredging work lasted 22 months and did not require any interruptions to the port’s activities.

Since January 2012, the Valemax class vessels have been partially loaded at Tubarão, as part of Vale’s project to prepare the port to receive the world’s biggest iron ore carriers. Following approval from the Brazilian Navy, the Vale Espírito Santo vessel, which is 361 metres long and 65 metres wide, and which first called at the Port of Tubarão last October, will now return to the port, from where it will leave completely laden for Oman in the Middle East.

With the completion of this project, the port gains efficiency and productivity and it beats another record, given that the volume exported on a single ship will be greater. This achievement is part of our strategy to increase Vale’s competitiveness to meet the demands from our Asian and European customers,” commented Vale’s Planning and Development Director, Fábio Brasileiro.

So far, the Valemax vessels have docked in 10 ports worldwide as well as two floating transfer stations in Subic Bay, in the Philippines. By the first half of 2014, the ships will also be able to call at Vale’s distribution center and maritime terminal in Malaysia. The fleet’s goal is to maximize the efficiency of operations and reduce the cost of shipping iron ore across the seas to steel companies. Valemax ships are considered the most ecological on the dry bulk market, as they permit a 35% reduction in carbon emissions per ton of ore transported compared with ships in other categories. By the end of this year, there will be 35 Valemax ships in all, including those owned by Vale and others chartered to operate exclusively for the company.


Press Release, May 22, 2013;