In early February, in response to the recent sinking of four bulk carriers in very short succession carrying nickel ore and the tragic loss of 66 seafarers lives in those accidents, Intercargo, the trade Association representing the interests of the bulk shipping industry, launched the Intercargo Guide for the Safe Loading of Nickel Ore.
The Guide primarily aims to explain through use of an easy-to-follow flow-chart how nickel ore can continue to be safely shipped, within limitations, whilst raising awareness of the serious issue of cargo liquefaction, and is targeted at the widest possible distribution within industry including shippers, shipowners and ship’s masters’. The Guide also clearly states that the so-called ‘can test’ is insufficiently robust as a means of checking cargo safety on its own.
Speaking as Intercargo Chairman, Nicky Pappadakis said “this Guide complements the already excellent advice and good work of P&I to raise awareness and define testing and analysis requirements. It also has the ambition to help encourage dialogue within the exporting countries to enable shippers to address shortcomings in processes, to re-double efforts to ensure documentary processes are truthful and accurate and to encourage shipowners to undertake basic due diligence on safety processes of the shipper prior to accepting the cargo.
We feel that such matters are worth addressing — not just to preserve life at sea but to ensure that this burgeoning trade can be serviced by owners making informed choices about what constitutes ‘responsible’.”
He continued “we are asking for all partner’s to consider loading procedures more responsibly and to ensure that they
comply with what is already a legal requirement within the IMSBC Code.
A growing number of shipowners have already expressed unease about carrying cargoes that may liquefy - our aim is to address the problem and stop seafarer deaths before the momentum of unwillingness to carry becomes unstoppable. We now need to use the IMSBC Code to define responsible owners, shippers, and proper processes.”
Intercargo continues to work on this important issue within IMO which has identified the problem and is taking steps to address weaknesses in the testing and approval processes through the IMSBC code.
Intercargo represents 160 bulk carrier owners (vessels engaged in the transport of dry bulk commodities such as coal, grain and iron ore) and associates. With non- governmental organization status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Intercargo’s objective is the creation of a “safe, efficient and environmentally friendly” dry cargo sector.
Intercargo, founded in 1980, works within the Round Table of international maritime associations comprising of BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping, Intercargo and Intertanko. IMO is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Nickel ore is an important component in the steel making industry and is mainly mined in tropical countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and New Caledonia. China is one of the main importers of nickel ore, importing about 45 million tonnes during 2011.