Rio de Janeiro (Dow Jones) – Global mining company Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN, AAUKY) and Brazilian port developer LLX Logistica Sat (LLXL3.BR) may open up their iron-ore export terminal at the port of Acu in southeast Brazil for use by other Brazilian ore miners, LLX said Friday.
Plans exist to double capacity of the iron-ore export terminal to 100 million metric tons a year, depending on demand, including from other ore exporters, according to LLX Chief Executive Otavio Lazcano.
The port’s terminals could be opened up for use by iron-ore miners in Brazil other than Anglo if plans to rebuild a stretch of railroad owned by Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR) proceed, an LLX spokeswoman said. This would facilitate port access for miners from the currently land-locked Serra Azul iron-ore mining area in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state.
“Two iron-ore loading berths, with 40 million to 50 million tons a year capacity, have already been built at Acu,” said Lazcano during a conference call with analysts Friday. “Plans exist to double this up to 100 million tons a year, depending on demand.”
Acu’s iron-ore terminal is owned by LLX Minas-Rio, a joint venture between logistics company LLX, with 51%, and Anglo, with 49%. The first two berths, which can accommodate capesize vessels, are due to start exporting iron ore in the second half 2013 from Anglo’s Minas-Rio iron-ore mine in Minas Gerais state. The mine will produce 26.5 million tons a year of the steelmaking raw material in a first phase, which will be transported to Acu port via a slurry pipe.
Anglo is studying the possibility of eventually expanding iron-ore production at Minas-Rio up to 80 million tons a year, the company stated late last year.
LLX’s focus, meanwhile, is on “setting up infrastructure to allow these [mining] companies access to the port,” the LLX spokeswoman said.
Iron-ore producers in the Serra Azul region currently seeking iron-ore export facilities include steelmakers ArcelorMittal (MT, MT.AE), Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA (USIM5.BR, USZNY), or Usiminas, and Ferrous Resources, a mining company owned by U.S., UK and Brazilian pension funds.
Studies on setting up a rail link between Acu and the MRS Logistica railroad, which runs through the Serra Azul region, have now been completed, showing the project to be viable, Lazcano said. This project would involve the rehabilitation of part of Vale’s Ferrovia Centro-Atlantica, or FCA, railroad between Campos and Ambai in Rio de Janeiro state.
Lazcano added that the development of the Acu port is “strictly on schedule” and that two piers will start operations in the second half of 2013, shipping oil, iron ore and other cargoes. A total of 2.426 billion Brazilian reais ($1.33 billion) has so far been invested in the port, which is planned eventually to be Latin America’s biggest.
LLX is controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista. Batista’s iron-ore mining venture, MMX Mineracao e Metalicos SA (MMXM3.BR), is currently building an iron-ore export port at Itaguai in Rio de Janeiro state, to ship iron ore produced both from its own mines and other producers in the Serra Azul region.
-By Diana Kinch, Dow Jones Newswires