A very large ore carrier has been allowed into a Chinese port for the first time.

The 388,000-dwt Berge Everest (built 2011), operated for Brazilian mining giant Vale by BW Group, has arrived in Dalian with a full cargo of iron ore from Brazil, BW Group confirmed to Bloomberg.

The move appears to be a breakthrough in the ongoing dispute between Vale and Chinese authorities over their unwillingness to allow the company’s VLOCs into China, the very market they were designed to serve.

It began when the 400,000-dwt Vale Brasil (built 2011) was rerouted on its maiden voyage from Brazil to China this summer.

Clarksons Capital Markets predicted earlier this month that China would only remove obstacles preventing Vale’s VLOCs from entering its ports once the first of the domestically built ships enters the game.

The Berge Everest, built by Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry in China, is the first of four VLOCs operated by BW Group for Vale. The rest are due to hit the water next year.

The ship is owned by Berge Bulk which is controlled by the Sohmen family, who also own BW Group.

Analyst Mike Pak said opposition from the Chinese shipping and steel industries was standing in the way.

“Even though construction of the fleet is being partly financed by Chinese banks and 12 of the vessels are being constructed in Chinese shipyards, the vessels are seen as a threat to domestic shipping companies and a loss of bargaining power for Chinese steel producers, in our view,” he said in a report.

More recently the vessels ran into controversy when STX Pan Ocean’s 400,000-dwtVale Beijingdeveloped a leak prior to making its maiden voyage from Brazil.

The news prompted the Chinese Shipowner Association to question the safety of the vessels and whether they should be allowed to enter Chinese ports.

The industry association has previously put pressure on the Chinese government to ensure it has a slice of the VLOC ownership pie.

Vale president Murilo Fereira said a few weeks ago that the company was in “advanced” talks with a foreign firm to sell its 19 VLOCs which he described as a “drain on the company’s capital”.

A recent report by brokerage ICAP suggested that any loss suffered from the sale of the vessels might be a small price to pay to gain access to Chinese ports.

But Murilo warned that any sale would only go ahead with a long-term charter-back to Vale.

A total of 16 vessels are operated for Vale while the company has ordered 19 of its own.