21 January 2011
Açu Superport
Rob Fisher

The Açu Superport is a big port in Brazil. And it’s private. We’re not used to such things being private in the UK.

Located in São João da Barra, in the north of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Açu Superport is a private mixed-use port terminal that will have 10 docking berths; four for iron ore, two for oil-handling, one for coal and three for steel products, slag, granite and pig iron. With a depth of 18.5 metres, reaching 21 meters in a second stage, the Superport will have a bridge 2.9 kilometers long and will allow the mooring of Capesize vessels with capacities up to 220,000 tonnes. The port has great potential for the Oil and Gas industry due to its proximity to the Campos Basin.

The project is currently under construction and is scheduled to begin operations in 2012.

It’s being built by Brazil’s richest man.

Eike Batista, a mining mogul and Brazil’s richest man, dreamed up the idea for the Acu Superport because he was fed up with the delays in getting iron ore from his mines onto ships bound for China.


“Brazil is a gigantic opportunity to arbitrage inefficiencies,” he said.

That mindset gives me a sense of how he got to be so rich. And he gets things done:

A logistics corridor of 45 km, consisting of transmission lines, water, gas and telecom pipelines, railroad and highway, will connect the Açu Superport to the city of Campos. his logistics corridor will be able to handle up to 100 thousand vehicles per day, equivalent to 36 hours of traffic leaving Rio across the Rio-Niterói Bridge.

The port is for trading with China. The BBC has an unsurprisingly negative attitude.

A recent study found that more than 80% of Brazil’s manufactured exports are being adversely affected by competition from China.

That is a real danger to the Brazilian economy because mining and commodities are not very labour intensive. The bulk of the Brazilian workforce is employed in manufacturing industries.

The problem is that, natural resources aside, Brazil has a similar competitive advantage to China - cheap unskilled labour.

It could be that Brazil is on its way up, and will leave its manufacturing behind like other rich countries.


  1. Hi, I’m a brazilian libertarian who just discovered your blog. Unfortunately, Eike is pretty much a state-capitalist, who get good deals/loans/permits to build huge mines and ports just like this one.

    Posted by Anthony Ling on  01 March 2011 at 08:42 pm

  2. Thanks for that insight, Anthony. Interesting. It does seem, though, that you *have* get close to the state to be allowed to do any large scale construction. (Actually, in the UK, if you want to extend your own house it helps to know some local officials…)

    I think the problem is that the nature of the state means that only people who are “state-capitalists”, or at least know how to play that game, can be successful.

    Posted by Rob Fisher on  03 March 2011 at 05:04 pm

Post a Comment

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.