Iron ore being loaded onto a dry bulk ship

Electronic bills of lading (eBLs) are already transforming the iron ore trade

Published: 28 June 2023

“We don’t want to be a first mover on eBLs” is what we often hear – yet this is despite the first eBL systems having been around for more than 20 years.

BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale and Anglo American account for around 1 billion tonnes of iron ore shipped on average per year. These leading mining companies together increased the amount of iron ore carried on eBLs by 80% from 2021 to 2022 – which is around 100 million tonnes. Electronic bills of lading now account for more than 20% of their annual trade volumes for iron ore. A direct benefit for these four leading producers is a reduction in risks that are prevalent in the paper world which can amount to billions of dollars, such as fraud and in some cases letter of indemnity exposure.

Earlier this year, BIMCO launched the “25 by 25 pledge” where shippers commit to a target of moving at least 25% of a commodity on eBLs by 2025. BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale and Anglo American were among the very first to sign up to the pledge with Roy Hill and South32 coming on board recently. For iron ore alone, the campaign now covers 70% of the world’s total production. But the campaign is not just about iron ore – it is about increasing the number of commodities in the bulk sector that are shipped on eBLs.

Whether you are shipping jet fuel, grain or any other bulk commodity, we will be delighted to have a dialogue about eBLs with you – please get in touch.


Mads Wacher Kjaergaard

Manager, Standards, Innovation and Research

Copenhagen, Denmark