Danger of loading nickel ore from Philippines


Loading of nickel ore from Philippines still poses a huge problem.

Further to BIMCO’s news article “ Cargo Alert – beware of shipping illegal nickel ore from Philippines” on 9 March 2017, BIMCO has received information that loading of nickel ore cargoes out of the Philippines could be highly unsafe in terms of such cargoes liquefying. This is exacerbated by a couple of factors as follows:

  1. Wet nickel ore cargoes being loaded;
  2. Inaccurate cargo declarations and certificates provided by shippers
  3. Stockpiles of nickel ore being stored in the open and hence exposed to all forms of weather conditions
  4. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ order of closure/suspension of several nickel ore mines in February 2017 resulting in mines rushing to ship as much ore as possible pending    their appeal to this order before it comes into force.
  5. Independent surveyors appointed being denied access to shore stockpiles and apparent threats received if barges with wet cargoes are being rejected.

BIMCO Advice

  • Nickel ore should always be shipped strictly in accordance with the requirements of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes ( IMSBC) Code. See BIMCO on-line Solid Cargo Database on nickel ore.
  • It is classified as a Group A cargo, i.e it may liquefy if shipped at a moisture content in excess of its transportable moisture limit (TML).
  • Testing of TML and moisture content sampling should always be carried out in accordance with sections 4 , 7 and 8 of the IMSBC Code.
  • In accordance with subsection 4.3.3 of the IMSBC Code, shipper has to provide to the master, procedures for sampling, testing and controlling moisture content to ensure that the moisture content is less than its TML when it is on board. These procedures have to be approved and implementation checked by the competent authority at the port of loading and issuing consequently a document to the master certifying that the latter has been done.
  • Exercise extreme caution on total reliance of shipper’s cargo declaration form and certificates of TML and moisture content.
  • Loading of nickel ore cargoes should never be accepted on the basis of the ‘can’ test alone. Note that the ‘can’ test is only a complementary check-test procedure in accordance with section 8 of the IMSBC Code. Even when a cargo passes the ‘can’ test i.e. remains dry, it may still have moisture content that exceeds its TML. Obviously when it fails the ‘can’ test, the IMSBC Code , subsection 8.4.1 clearly states that arrangements will have to be made for additional tests to be conducted at the laboratory before cargo is accepted for loading.
  • Always consult your P&I club before fixing or chartering a ship to load nickel ore cargoes from Philippines.

Source: Gard P&I Club

Ai Cheng Foo-Nielsen
in Copenhagen, DK


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