What are precautions while loading and carrying iron ore on ships?

The Mercantile Marine Departments shall carry out 100% Port State Control / Flag State Implementation Inspections of all vessels loading cargo of Iron ore fines / Concentrates and similar type of cargoes from Indian Ports during fair / foul weather season.

  1. The shipper’s test certificate should be presented before loading, be sound and no more than seven days old. A good indicator during the load is the presence of splatter marks of iron ore filings on the bulkheads. If splatter marks are evident, they should be taken very seriously as an indication that the moisture content is above the TML and the flow moisture point. If the Master is in any doubt, he should contact the owners and the P&I Club correspondent.
  2. Iron ores are heavy cargoes which occupy a small area for a large weight, i.e they have a low stowage factor (between 0.24­0.80 m3/tonne). It is therefore important that the tanktop has sufficient strength to carry certain iron ores.
  3. the stability of vessels ­ as iron ore is a high density cargo, when loaded on an ordinary bulk carrier (not an ore carrier) it will increase the vessel’s GM to make it a `stiff’ ship.
  4. dust ­ iron ore is commonly loaded with conveyor belts, grabs, chutes and bucket belt unloaders, causing significant quantities of dust during both loading and discharging. However, enclosed conveyor belt systems generate less dust. The dust may damage ship’s machinery as well as the health of personnel.
  5. trimming of these cargoes is generally required (even though their angle of repose is mostly above 35°) to spread their weight across the entire tanktop.
  6. moisture content ­ iron ore is assumed to have a homogeneous moisture content between 0­16%. However, if kept lying in the open, the moisture content may increase due to absorption from air or rain. If the exact moisture content is unknown, a proper laboratory test may be called for. The Master must also ask the shipper to detail the cargo’s moisture content and TML
  7. Recently it has also been learnt that certain Indian Port Authorities have issued guidance to ship owners loading iron ore which the Club finds are at odds with the guidance of IMO.  This guidance reportedly stems from the MMD (Shipping Master – the local authorities for Director General of Shipping India) and requires that the Owners/Master (the carrier) of vessels due to load iron ore appoint surveyors on their behalf to draw the samples on board and produce the analysis report to the authority when nearing completion of loading without which Port clearance to the vessel will not be issued
  8. The ship owner shall comply with the provisions of SOLAS Chapter VI, IMSBC Code and additional safety measures for bulk carriers under Chapter XII of SOLAS 1974.


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