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Navios building up its South American fleet on iron-ore wager

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:19

[MONTEVIDEO,Uruguay] Navios Maritime Holdings Inc's South American unit is expanding its barge fleet this year as it bets on a recovery in iron-ore shipments from the Hidrovia river system that connects Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia.

Brazilian iron-ore shipments through the Hidrovia could return to 2012-2013 levels before the end of the decade thanks to rising mineral demand and lower shipping costs, Navios South American Logistics Inc Chief Executive Officer Claudio Lopez said. Hidrovia is a key waterway linking soybean and iron-ore producers in South America's hinterland with global markets.

"In the fourth quarter of 2017, there is going to be a substantial increase in shipments," Mr Lopez said Wednesday in an interview from Montevideo.

The unit of Monaco-based Navios Maritime is adding three push boats and 60 barges to its river business this year. In March, the company opened a new iron ore terminal to handle shipments from Brazil, where it counts mining giant Vale SA as its largest client.

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Mr Lopez expects the number of shipping companies operating in the Hidrovia to shrink in coming years.

"This business is going to become increasingly sophisticated and capital intensive," he said. "Those companies that have access to cheap capital globally are going to be the winners."

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