Vale grounded

The rise in global shipping rates in 2008 may not be a seminal point in most people’s lives, but it was memorable for the management of Brazilian miner Vale for all the wrong reasons. The world’s biggest iron ore miner faced huge transport costs of about $100 a tonne to ship iron ore to China. Even during a period of record prices, that was painful. Never again, swore the Brazilian. Over the next few years, Vale spent US$8bn constructing the largest bulk carriers in the world. To capture the most economies of scale, it chose to build ships so large...

The rise in global shipping rates in 2008 may not be a seminal point in most people’s lives, but it was memorable for the management of Brazilian miner Vale for all the wrong reasons. The world’s biggest iron ore miner faced huge transport costs of about $100 a tonne to ship iron ore to China. Even during a period of record prices, that was painful. Never again, swore the Brazilian.

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