RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones)–Cargo handling capacity at Brazil’s ports is set to rise to 1 billion metric tons a year in late 2012 or early 2013, from 834 million tons in 2010, as part of a current $17 billion investment program, a Brazilian federal ports secretariat official said Tuesday.
In the longer term, the aim is to expand the country’s ports cargo handling capacity to 1.7 billion tons a year of products by 2022 to meet the demands of growing export and import trade, said Mario Lima Junior, deputy minister at the ports secretariat.
Ores, including iron ore, accounted for 15% of the total of cargo handled at Brazilian ports in 2010, in tonnage terms, with agricultural products, oil and fuels being other major cargo items, Lima Junior said at a coal industry event in Rio de Janeiro.
Demand is growing for new capacity to export more steel, bauxite, alumina, aluminum and agricultural products, and to import more coal and fertilizers, he said.
Planned expansions in Brazil’s steelmaking sector could lift those exports to 15 million tons a year in 2015 and 19 million tons a year in 2030, from 11 million tons at present, he said.
Investments underway in Brazil’s port infrastructure total $17 billion, of which $14 billion are being disbursed by the private sector and $3 billion by the state sector, expected to be completed by 2015, according to the official.
Currently, there are 34 public maritime ports and 129 private port terminals in Brazil. New deepwater ports are being built in Manaus in Amazonas state in north Brazil, and in Espirito Santo state in the country’s southeast, Lima Junior said. In addition, $730 million is being spent on dredging ports to allow access for bigger ships, for instance bulk coal carriers, he said. A further $700 million will need to be spent on dredging in the foreseeable future.
Inland ports are also being developed at Santarem and Vila do Conde in Para state, north Brazil, according to the deputy minister. Miner Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR), aluminum producer Albras and alumina producers Alunorte and Companhia Alumina do Para are all interested in bidding on construction of terminals at Vila do Conde to export steel products, bauxite, alumina and agricultural products, Lima Junior said.
Bids for development of the Vila do Conde terminals will be made July 20, he said.
In addition to the investments underway in cargo handling, Brazil is investing $481 million to expand passenger terminals as part of its preparation for visitors expected for the 2014 World Cup, which it will host, the official said.
Passenger terminal capacity is being expanded at Mucuripe, Natal, Recife, Manaus, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Santos ports. The plan is that in 2014 Rio de Janeiro and Santos ports will each be able to receive seven ships simultaneously, Lima Junior said.
-By Diana Kinch, Dow Jones Newswires