UPDATE 5-Huge Vale ore carrier disabled at Brazil port

Tue Dec 6, 2011 6:51am GMT

* Damaged Vale Beijing is world's largest ore carrier

* Vale will try to move, repair ship

* Ruptured tank latest woe in Vale's ship program

* Ship operator STX confirms leak, shares down 6 pct

By Jeb Blount and Hyunjoo Jin

RIO DE JANEIRO/SEOUL, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The world's largest iron-ore vessel is disabled and could sink in a port where Brazil's Vale, the world top producer, loads about 10 percent of global supplies of the commodity, shipping agents and the ship's operator said.

The Vale Beijing, a 361-metre-long vessel that can carry 400,000 tonnes of iron ore, has a leak in a ballast tank, operator STX Pan Ocean said. Shipping agents told Reuters the vessel had ruptured its hull.

The incident at Ponta da Madeira Port near Sao Luis, Brazil, is another blow to a multi-billion-dollar plan by Vale to develop a fleet of 35 giant iron ore carriers to compete with Australian producers for market share in China, the world's largest iron-ore consumer.

The first in the 400,000 deadweight-tonne class of vessels was blocked by Chinese authorities from docking in China earlier this year.   Continued...

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