News alert from London P&I Club
The London P&I Club has recently issued its Loss Prevention Publication StopLoss issue 59 where warns all operators to be aware of iron ore cargoes from Sierra Leone. Recent cases in which Brookes Bell travelled to Sierra Leone acting for Members of the London P&I Club, confirmed that ships can be offered iron ore cargo which is unsafe because the actual moisture content exceeds the Transportable Moisture Limit. Dealing with such problems can be particularly difficult because of the limited local expertise and technology, and poor communications. Already, two shippers have resumed exports of iron ore, some of which are Group A (capable of liquefying) under the IMSBC Code.
One shipper trucks iron ore concentrate from its mine at Marampa to the Thofeyim river terminal, where it is loaded onto barges and transported to geared ships at the Freetown inner anchorage. The other shipper transports iron ore by rail from its mine at Tonkolili to the Pepel river terminal from where 35,000 mt dwt, self-discharging ‘transfer ships’ transport the cargo to
larger ships at the outer anchorage.
Of course, the IMSBC Code requires representative samples of Group A cargoes to be properly analysed so that the appropriate information/certification on Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) and actual moisture content is available to the Master prior to loading. Brookes Bell have learned that while there are local laboratories which can measure the moisture content there is no facility in Sierra Leone with the equipment necessary to establish the TML of a sample. One attempt at confirming compliance with the Code involved a surveyor sampling the cargo for the first time during trans-shipment at anchor and then seeking to establish the moisture content by drying out the samples in an oven in the ship’s galley. The resultant uncertainty over the characteristics of the cargo and whether it is safe to load has led to very extensive delays during loading.
At a simple level, where Owners/Charterers have felt compelled to verify the condition of apparently wet cargo offered for shipment there are significant logistical problems in accessing the stockpiles either at the mines or river terminals. The long and difficult journeys can involve both road and river transport and, because of the lack of on-site accommodation, may need to be
Both shippers are now aware of their obligations under the IMSBC Code and appear to be trying to avoid offering wet cargo and/or inadequate certification. However, Brookes Bell and the London P&I Club expect some difficulties to remain, particularly as both shippers plan to increase their export volumes.
Any Member, whether Owner or Charterer, considering fixing for loading iron ore from Sierra Leone is advised to give early notice to the Club which can assist in establishing whether the sampling and testing of the material consignment has been conducted properly.
For more information, click to view London P&I Club’s Loss Prevention Publication StopLoss 59
Source: London P&I CLub/ StopLoss 59