In May 2011, Brazilian iron ore producer, Vale, took delivery of the ‘Vale Brazil’, the world’s biggest dry bulk carrier. Built by Daewoo in South Korea, the ship has a carrying capacity of 400,000 tonnes. At 360 metres long, it is 60 metres longer than the Eiffel tower is tall. Its carrying capacity is equivalent to the weight of almost 50 Eiffel towers. Along with the 18 other similar carriers on order, it was intended to bring about a step change in the cost of shipping Vale’s iron ore from Brazil to Asia. Dry bulk carriers, as the name implies, are distinct from those designed to carry bulk liquids, such as oil tankers, and are used for the delivery of cargoes such as coal, iron ore, cement and grains. Up to this time, the largest vessels carrying these products were Capesize vessels, so called because their size prevents them from travelling through the Suez Canal, obliging them to sail around the Capes. Capesize vessels typically carry around 175,000 tonnes of cargo, only half what the new ships can carry. Their huge size means that there are only a few ports around the world which can accommodate a very large ore carrier (VLOC) as these ships are called. Among those that can are Dalian and Qingdao in China.
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