Port of Ponta da Madeira: discover one of the main ports in Brazil

  • 24/03/2020
  • 10 minutes

Infrastructure is essential for the development of a country’s trade, especially in transport logistics and the flow of its production. In this sense, Brazil has been investing a lot in its ports in recent years to explore the potential that we have to become major exporters.

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We spoke with Renan Queiroz, agency manager, André Nogueira, agency supervisor (both from Wilson Sons), and Mateus Melo, general manager of CRBSM — Bahia de São Marcos Tugboat Consortium (a Wilson Sons company), to talk about one of the great Brazilian highlights: the Port of Ponta da Madeira. See what is its size today, its role in exporting ore and why it is so important for the country’s trade. Keep reading!

), and Mateus Melo, general manager of CRBSM — Bahia de São Marcos Tugboat Consortium (a Wilson Sons company), to talk about one of the great Brazilian highlights: the Port of Ponta da Madeira. See what is its size today, its role in exporting ore and why it is so important for the country’s trade. Keep reading!

Over 30 years of the Port of Ponta da Madeira

The Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal was inaugurated in January 6, 1986 in São Luís, Maranhão, adjacent to the port of Itaqui.

The choice of location was made due to the ideal conditions of geographic location and the characteristics of natural depth of São Marcos bay, allowing it to become an important terminal for mooring large ships.

The PDM port is a private port, managed today by Vale and designed to meet the need to transport iron and manganese ore from Carajás — the route is all made by rail.

The Port of Ponta da Madeira in numbers

To understand the superlative dimensions of Ponta da Madeira, we can analyze the terminal’s impressive numbers. André gives the first panorama: “the port holds up to 5 ships simultaneously (Pier I, III South, III North, IV south and IV North) with a monthly average of around 100 rotations”.

For him, the internal logistics of the terminal is well advanced in terms of technology and daily production, the disposition of equipment is done in a strategic way so that the unloading of trains does not have much influence on the loading speed of ships.

“Considering the nominal capacity of each ‘ship loader’ in the terminal for 24 hours with the 5 berths occupied and in constant operation, it can be said that production can reach 1,296,000 million tonnes of ore per day. The average monthly production of the terminal is around 20 million tons loaded”, he adds.

Renan adds by saying that “according to information from ANTAQ, the terminal has been a leader in cargo handling in the country since 2014, having recorded the handling of approximately 198 million tons in 2018”.

Vale itself corroborates these incredible numbers by informing some more characteristics about the PDM:

  • 600 km² of area;
  • 55 nautical miles of access channel;
  • 7 mooring areas;
  • 1.6 km of access point;
  • depth of 25 meters at Pier IV, making the terminal one of only two in the world to be able to receive vessels with 23 meters of draft — excluding tankers on the high seas.

Importance of the port for Brazilian trade

Geographically, we can say that the Port of Ponta da Madeira is part of the Arco Norte, but it is good to differentiate it from the other terminals in this group that are more related to grain exports.

PDM contributes to the Brazilian commercial power on another issue: being the major outlet for the country’s ore production. For Mateus Melo, one of the main features of the ports of Maranhão is the location. “Due to their geographical position, the ports are closer to the main consumer markets (USA, EU and China) and the Panama Canal. Another point worth mentioning is the content of Iron (Fe) found in the ore of the Carajás Mine, which reaches 66.7%, which makes this one of the highest quality products in the world”, he states.

Renan Queiroz also points out that “in 2018, Brazilian ore exports totaled US$ 20.215 billion and represented 8.4% of the total sold by the country, and Vale has today (according to the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association), a slice between 70 to 80% of the amount of iron ore exported.”

Linking these numbers to the vital relationship between Ponta da Madeira and Serra dos Carajás, the port became vital for the outflowing strategy of a very relevant commodity for the Brazilian economy. André adds: “the Ponta da Madeira terminal is the most important for Vale in Brazil due to its location and physical conditions that offer a great operational and commercial advantage over other locations.”

He continues: “the Ponta da Madeira terminal has proved to be very strategic for Vale’s growth plan towards its Australian customers, for example. Due to its monthly handling capacity and the continuous improvement and expansion projects, the terminal is of paramount importance for the movement of national commerce.”

The outlook for today and the future

Even with a slight retraction in 2019 (as a result of an atypical period of intense rains in the North Region), activity at the Ponta da Madeira terminal continues to evolve solidly over the past few years.

Vale’s constant investments and the constant demand for the cost-benefit of cargo exported from PDM ensure that this growth continues at full steam in the future.

The relationship between the port and the S11D complex

The biggest reason for optimism in the expansion of productivity in Ponta da Madeira comes from an innovative and immense project by Vale in the municipality of Canaã dos Carajás, known as S11D Eliezer Batista Complex.

It is treated by the company as the largest mining complex in its history, with an investment of 6.4 billion dollars and more than 40 thousand professionals involved.

The objective is to bet in innovation, automation and sustainability to not only increase the extraction but also to improve the quality of the iron produced — making the material even more attractive to the international market.

At the tip of this unprecedented project in the history of Brazil is the PDM: the terminal is the main outlet for the product originated in Carajás and also receives investments to adapt to new times.

Thinking of everything that the Port of Ponta da Madeira already means for the country and the future that we envision for the export of ore, it can be considered today one of the most important for the trade and economy of Brazil in relation to other countries. And its relevance tends to grow over time and the investments planned for the infrastructure.

Do you want to know more Brazilian port complexes like this, which are contributing to the engine of the import and export economy in Brazil? So come and read our special e-book on the subject!