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Web alert: Considerations for the carriage of 'Direct Reduced Iron' cargoes

02 April 2014

Direct Reduced Iron’s (B) propensity to self-heat (and associated hazards) requires ships fixed to carry this cargo to ensure that their cargo holds are properly inerted for the duration of its voyage. The requirement is featured in the IMSBC’s schedule for DRI (B) which states:

'The ship shall be provided with the means to ensure that the requirements of this Code to maintain the oxygen concentration below 5% can be achieved throughout the voyage. The ship’s fixed CO2 fire-fighting system shall not be used for this purpose. Consideration shall be given to providing the vessel with the means to top up the cargo spaces with additional supplies of inert gas, taking into account the duration of the voyage.'

The IMSBC Code does not specify which party should supply the means for inerting a ship’s cargo holds and this ambiguity has been a source of conflict between shippers/charterers and owners. Irrespective of who supplies the inerting facility, it is a critical safety requirement and must be complied with. Club members whose operations include the carriage of DRI (B) should ensure that the arrangements for inert gas have been agreed upon in good time prior to the date of loading, so that no undue delays will occur and the requirements of the IMSBC Code are fully complied with.

An additional consideration for shippers is the presence of Direct Reduced Iron (C) fines within cargoes which do not have DRI (C) in their descriptions, but which in fact are blends which contain a high DRI (C) content. It should be noted that a number of descriptions have been offered by shippers for cargoes which contain a high proportion of DRI (C) fines which include re-oxidised fines, iron fines (blend) and iron ore pellet chips.  DRI (C) fines are a by-product of the DRI briquetting procedures, they are collected by manufacturers keen to minimise wastage. This cargo has been responsible for a number of casualties, such as the MV Ythan which suffered multiple explosions in 2004 resulting in the death of six of her crew. 

For further details regarding the hazards associated with DRI (C) see the Standard Circular ‘Information required when offered a shipment of iron fines that may contain DRI (C)’, which is attached to this web alert.