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Web alert: cargoes that may liquefy - Bauxite and Coal

29 September 2015

The IMO’s Sub-Committee on Carriage of Containers and Cargoes (CCC) recently met to discuss, among other issues, cargoes which may liquefy, in particular, bauxite and coal.

Following the sinking of the Bulk Jupiter which was carrying 46,400 tonnes of bauxite and the loss of eighteen lives earlier this year, the risk of bauxite liquefaction has been in the spotlight. Bauxite is currently classified as a Group C cargo (that is, cargo that is not liable to liquefy) under the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. However, further to the investigation on the causes of the sinking by Bahamas, the flag state of the Bulk Jupiter, which suggested that the liquefaction of bauxite led to the loss of stability of the ship, the CCC has identified the need to warn masters of the possible dangers of liquefaction associated with bauxite.

A circular has been approved by the CCC to warn Masters of ships not to accept bauxite for carriage unless: 

  • the moisture limit for the specific cargo is certified as less than the indicative moisture limit of 10% and the particle size distribution as is detailed in the individual schedule for bauxite in the IMSBC Code; or
  • the cargo is declared as Group A (cargoes that may liquefy) and the shipper declares the transportable moisture limit (TML) and moisture content; or
  • the cargo has been assessed as not presenting Group A properties. 

In addition, the CCC has established a Correspondence Group to investigate further hazards and risks of liquefaction associated with the carriage of bauxite and to determine the need for a new schedule.

The CCC also considered coal as a cargo which may liquefy following some studies submitted by Australia. A new test to determine the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) for Coal was agreed. This will also be considered further by the above mentioned Correspondence Group.

The club will continue to monitor developments and keep members updated. In the meantime, should any questions or concerns arise, members are encouraged to contact their usual club contact or the author.