Liquefaction of Bauxite Cargoes

23 March 2012

The Club have had reports from Brazil that there has been in a large increase in claims arising out of the liquefaction of bauxite cargoes being shipped from the Amazon basin area.

As Members may be aware, Bauxite has been listed as a Group C cargo in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code).Group C consists of cargoes which are not liable to liquefy and do not possess chemical hazards. Thus bauxite is not a cargo one would ordinarily expect to be prone to liquefaction. However, the categorization in the IMSBC Code only applies to Bauxite cargoes within the specific description and characteristics listed. 

In particular, Bauxite is described/characterised as:-

  1. 70%-90% lumps
  2. 2.5mm to 500mm
  3. 10%-30% powder
  4. 0%-10% Moisture Content

It is our understanding that the problems in the Amazon basin have arisen due to heavy rains in the area increasing the moisture content of the cargo above prescribed levels, insufficient storage time to allow for drainage and ships loading  during rainfall. It is a further possibility that the particle size may be smaller than that the specification in the IMSBC Code.

Members are reminded of Paragraph 2.1 of Appendix 3 of the IMSBC Code which states that "many fine-particled cargoes, if possessing a sufficiently high moisture content, are liable to flow. Thus any damp or wet cargo containing a proportion of fine particles should be tested for flow characteristics prior to loading". Further, should Bauxite presented for loading not match the listed description/characteristics, then the cargo should be treated as one that is not listed in the IMSBC Code in accordance with the procedure set out in paragraph 1.3 in Section 1 of the IMSBC Code.