660 - 10/09 - Iron Ore Fines Loading Issues - India


The Club's earlier LP Bulletins 546 - 10/07 and 647 - 7/09 warn members of the serious risks that can be associated with the carriage of iron ore fines loaded in Indian ports.  Reports of serious incidents continue and include two vessels loaded with this product that have capsized in the last two to three months. At the present time the Club is dealing with 12 current cases involving this commodity. This has increased its concern over safety when shipping iron ore from this area and has prompted this additional and strengthened warning to Members.

Iron ore fines are transported from inland mines primarily by rail in open topped wagons or, to a lesser extent, by road trucks to Indian shipping ports where it is stacked in open piles. During the past summer’s monsoon these stockpiles have been exposed to periods of heavy rain.

The Club’s technical experts have reported that this exposure to rain is a fundamental factor that has brought the moisture content of large quantities of ore over its Transportable Moisture Limit, TML for short. Whilst the problem with wetting is expected to diminish with the ore being mined and delivered to the ports during the forthcoming dry season, it is understood that there are considerable stocks that have not yet been shipped which date back to the monsoon period.

The trade is characterised by many small to medium sized shippers who together strive to satisfy the demand that comes primarily from Chinese buyers, whose country’s government has granted substantial financial incentive measures for the purchase of raw materials for its heavy industry in order to stimulate the economy.

In principle, the shippers are obliged by IMO (IMSBC Code), when shipping iron ore of the type liable to liquefy and cause hazards on board ships, to provide the Master or his representative with appropriate information about the physical characteristics of the cargo sufficiently in advance of loading to enable the precautions that may be necessary to deal with any incidents involving the cargoes.

This declaration involves the shippers or their nominated agents carrying out proper sampling and testing for the material’s TML and moisture contents according to the procedures prescribed in the IMSBC Code. The TML and moisture content results should then be provided to the masters before any cargo is loaded.

Tests should be recent and in particular those for moisture content no more than 7 days before shipment. In the event that the stockpiles are exposed to further rain between the time of this sampling/analysis and being presented for loading, then the IMSBC Code makes clear that the moisture content of the shipment should be re-assessed by further sampling and analysis to ensure it is still below the TML.


Staff Author