Sierra Leone – carriage of iron ore fines cargoes – liquefaction risk

Clubs in the International Group have notified members that iron ore fines cargoes exported from Sierra Leone had been identified as an area of increasing concern due to a lack of regulatory oversight at loading ports and the potential for excessive wetting and thereby liquefaction and instability.

Group Club Members loading iron ore fine cargoes from Pepel, Sierra Leone were told that they should obtain current, valid and accurate information from the shipper on the physical and chemical properties of the cargo presented for shipment.

“It is the shipper’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements and procedures for testing and analyzing the moisture content and transportable moisture limit of cargoes”, the circular stated.

The International Group said that it understood that some cargoes of iron ore fines intended for shipment from the port of Pepel had been stockpiled outdoors uncovered for a prolonged period, posing a particular risk of liquefaction during the wet season. IG also understood that some cargoes intended for shipment from Pepel had previously been considered too low-grade for export and had been left in uncovered stockpiles for prolonged periods. They were now being blended with higher grade materials for export.

UK Club said that members should be aware that iron ore fines shipped from Pepel with a high moisture content might liquefy. When the moisture content rose above 14% the risk of liquefaction was very high. Typically, iron ore fines from the region would display moisture contents of between 13% and 16% during the wet season. In addition, it was normal for the upper surfaces of any stockpiled material to appear relatively dry during the dry season period but wet at increasing depths throughout the stockpiled material. It was important therefore that shippers carefully monitored, identified and separated those materials that required stockpiling and draining from those materials that were safe to ship.

UK Club Members were also informed that anomalies and inconsistencies had been seen in declarations and test certificates provided by shippers for iron ore fines cargoes loaded for shipment from Pepel. “That would suggest that some shippers are not adequately assessing or understanding the safety characteristics of the material intended for loading”.

Members were warned that check tests run on such materials (by means of the can test) might provide misleading results if not correctly interpreted. Club Members were reminded that the presence, or not, of surface water in the can should not be relied upon as a sole basis for acceptance of any such cargo for loading.

It was essential therefore that Club Members loading iron ore fine cargoes from Pepel, Sierra Leone obtain current, valid and accurate information from the shipper on the physical and chemical properties of the cargo presented for shipment. It was the shipper’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements and procedures for testing and analyzing the moisture content and transportable moisture limit of cargoes which may liquefy are complied with.

Early identification of any documentary discrepancies or concerns was key to providing a timely resolution before loading and therefore minimizing delays.

Club Members were also advised that they should ensure that they receive the shipper’s declaration and test certificates well in advance of loading, in order to address any issues in good time.

All Clubs in the International Group have issued similar circulars.

https://www.ukpandi.com/news-and-resources/circulars/2021/uk-club-circular-0821/