Singapore’s ship management company Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) has signed a charter agreement with mining company Rio Tinto for three liquefied natural gas (LNG) dual-fuel Newcastlemax bulk carriers.

The agreement includes an option for an additional three carriers.

The construction of the 210,000 deadweight tonne (DWT) vessels will take place at New Times Shipbuilding in China.

The delivery of the ships will commence from the second half of 2023.

EPS stated that it has been focusing on LNG-related developments as part of its environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policy.

Rio Tinto is making similar efforts to reduce its carbon footprint through the incorporation of LNG.

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EPS CEO Cyril Ducau said: “This partnership between EPS and Rio Tinto is another important step forward for industry-wide decarbonisation. We need like-minded companies to come together and use transitional fuels, like LNG, to get there. I am inspired by this partnership because it fulfils our sustainability ambitions and sends a clear signal that greener shipping is possible today.”

Rio Tinto commercial chief financial and operating officer Ashley Howard said: “We are delighted to include LNG dual-fuel shipping into our future fleet. This keeps Rio consistent with industry best practice and will provide additional opportunity to meet our emissions reduction goals and overall value management performance.”

Last month, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) signed two agreements to advance decarbonisation efforts in the maritime industry, one of which included the launch of a $90m (S$120m) fund for this purpose.

The port authority joined six shipping industry partners in a memorandum of cooperation to establish the fund, which will be used to construct a new maritime decarbonisation centre in Singapore.

The six firms include EPS, BW Group, Ocean Network Express, Sembcorp Marine, Foundation Det Norske Veritas and BHP.