Brazil’s National Waterway Transport Agency (Antaq) is minded to include restrictions on who is eligible to bid for a large, new iron ore handling terminal at the Port of Itaguaí, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. No companies currently operating in this market in that region should therefore be permitted to enter the contest.
According to board of directors’ spokesperson, Alber Vasconcelos, the bidding process should avoid “further entrenching the dominant position of the existing agents in the port.” In effect, this rules out industry major Vale, which already operates a leased terminal and a private terminal in the port, as well as CSN, which has its own private terminal in the Port of Itaguaí.
In the forthcoming concession for the ITG02 terminal, the only way that Vale or CSN would therefore be allowed to bid would be if no other companies showed an interest or any that did were not deemed sufficiently qualified.
Significantly, the board’s decision ran contrary to that of its own technical department, which believed it apposite to await a final decision taken on the matter by the Ministry of Ports and Airports. However, Vasconcelas argued that Antaq’s role is to take a position on such issues, irrespective of the position eventually assumed by the government. The future terminal will cover an area of 348,937m2 and require initial investment in the region of R$3 billion (US$600 million). This would allow it to have sufficient capacity to handle 20 million tonnes per annum.
The decision by Antaq now having been taken, the terminal project immediately passes to the Ministry of Ports and Airports and then the Federal Court of Auditors (TCU) for analysis. It should be noted that proposed restrictions on competition in terminal leasing auctions have resulted in various disputes over the past few years, especially in respect of container handling, so preventing either Vale or CSN from bidding may not be entirely straightforward.