Update: risk of liquefaction of Indian iron ore fines

29 August 2008

James Mackintosh & Co Pvt Ltd, P&I correspondents in India, have reported this week that they are currently involved in four disputes over the safety of wet iron ore fines cargoes offered for loading during the 2008 monsoon season, which they report is expected to run until October.
 
StopLoss 48 contained a warning about the severe stability problems experienced by bulk carriers which had loaded wet iron ore fines in various Indian ports, including Haldia, Vizakhapatnam and Mangalore. Liquefaction of the wet cargo reportedly led to two ships being beached to avoid capsize and at least one other bulker developed a dangerous list within days of departure from the load port.

Shippers of cargoes which may liquefy are required by the Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes to provide the Master with a certificate of the transportable moisture limit (TML) and the actual moisture content. Of course, the cargo should not be carried if the moisture content exceeds the TML. However, previous cases have shown that some shippers were unable to produce the necessary document or appeared to be offering certificates containing inaccurate and misleading information, particularly on the moisture content.

As none of the stockpiles of iron ore fines in Indian ports are covered, the moisture content can vary considerably subject to the local weather conditions. The majority of the problems experienced last year were associated with sustained heavy rain during the monsoon. James Mackintosh & Co Pvt Ltds reminder emphasises that Members considering loading iron ore fines from any Indian port should insist upon the production of the appropriate certificate before loading begins but should also treat with caution any certificate provided by shippers. Where there is reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of these certificates, Members must be prepared to refuse to load the cargo pending further investigation into its actual condition.

All editions of StopLoss are available for download from here but a copy of issue 48 is attached for ease of reference.

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