The West of England P&I Club has warned operators and others involved of the dangers of carrying nickel ore. Carrying nickel ore can be dangerous, because of the risk of liquefaction of the cargo on passage when the moisture content is higher than the cargo’s Flow Moisture Point (FMP).
After a number of ships being lost, with liquefaction of their nickel ore cargoes suspected of being the cause, the West of England Club published a Notice some years ago addressing the Dangers of Carrying Nickel ore. This Notice is still in forced and was re-issued as No.13 2017/2018 – Dangers of Carrying Nickel Ore from Indonesia and the Philippines – Mandatory Notification Requirements (re-issued).
The Club reminds operators of the risk of liquefaction with this cargo, as showcased by the loss of the ‘Emerald Star’, which claimed the lives of 11 seafarers in October 2017.
In addition, the Club has been informed of a recent near miss incident involving a vessel which had loaded 55,000t of nickel ore at Languyan, Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines, bound for China. The vessel encountered several days of Beaufort Force 7 winds and rough seas just before arriving at the discharge port. High cargo hold bilge sounding levels were observed in some holds and a visual inspection found that the cargo in the forward two of the vessel’s five holds had started to liquefy.
Representative samples of the cargo were obtained after discharge and submitted for testing to determine Moisture Content and FMP, and the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML). FMP was determined by both the flow table test and the penetration test.
Testing also found that the moisture content of the cargo exceeded the FMP determined by both test methods by several percent and the cargo was unsafe for loading and carriage.
In order to mitigate the risk associated with loading this Group A cargo in the Philippines and Indonesia, the requirements of the schedule for nickel ore along with the guidance concerning cargoes that may liquefy in the IMSBC Code should be closely followed.
Finally, the Club’s notification and survey requirements as per Notice to Members No.13 2017/2018 and in the associated bye-law within the Rules: Carriage of Nickel Ore from Indonesia and the Philippines, must also be met.