Philippines – Liquefaction of Nickel Ore from Surigao


Liquefaction of nickel ore resulted in cargo shift and loss of stability.


A supramax bulk carrier loaded with nickel ore sailed from Surigao, Philippines to  Lianyungang in China.  The cargo encountered heavy weather approximately 225 miles southeast of Taiwan.

 Although the master headed for a port of refuge with an escort tug in attendance, the list increased to the point where it was necessary to abandon ship.  Sadly, one crew member did not survive.

Members must notify the Club in accordance with International Group requirements when planning to fix or charter a vessel to load nickel ore from the Philippines or Indonesia.  The details are set out to members in Notice No 14 2013/2014.  In addition, the International Group circular on the Safe Carriage of Nickel Ore Cargoes should be read and followed.

Although a “can” test which results in the appearance of fluid conditions or free moisture clearly indicates that the moisture content of the material is higher than the Flow Moisture Point (FMP) and should be rejected, it should not be assumed that the cargo is safe to carry if the samples remain dry as the moisture content, while lower than the FMP, may still exceed the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML).  In order to comply with the provisions of the IMSBC Code the moisture content of the material must be less than the TML which can only be determined by testing the product in a laboratory.

Signs that show the cargo may be unsafe:

  • Free water inside the holds during loading.
  • “Splattering” when lumps of nickel ore are dropped onto the deck from a height of 2 to 3 metres or released by grab into the holds.
  • Samples that develop a sheen or ooze moisture when squeezed by hand.

Check points to be considered while loading nickel ore:

  • Appointing a surveyor as required by the Club’s bye-laws.
  • Samples to be tested by an independent laboratory prior to loading.
  • If any of the negative indications are observed while loading, the Club should be informed immediately as expert advice may be required.

Source: West of England P&I 


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