Brazilian coal and iron ore giant,Vale, has reached a $500 million agreement with the Chinese Shandong Shipping company, encompassing the transfer of four Valemax vessels to its operation. These are the largest iron ore carriers in the world, with a capacity of 400,000dwt.

However, it remains unclear whether these vessels will be able to make use of Chinese ports, since existing legislation effectively restricts their use for vessels above 350,000dwt. If there are changes to these regulations, then Shandong will be tasked with managingValemax vessels ultimately deployed on Chinese routes. Because of the embargo on it ships,Vale has developed distribution and transfers stations in both Asia and Oman.

During 2014, the fleet of Valemax bulk carriers will have reached 35 units, of which 19 will be retained by Vale and a further 16 chartered on long-term contracts.