Bulk Nickel Ore Shipping

Bulk Nickel Ore

Nickel Ore is a valuable silver-white metallic element used for alloys, for plating and for special steels, but which is rarely shipped in appreciable quantity.

Canada is being a major producer of Nickel Ore. Quantities are also found in certain islands of the Pacific Ocean, a recent major development being the extraction and export of laterite from New Caledonia, this mud-based ore having a high and valuable nickel content.

Bulk Nickel Ore Stowage Factor

  • Bulk¬†Nickel Ore Stowage Factor 18/22

Bulk Nickel Ore Shipping

Bulk nickel ore shipping refers to the transportation of nickel ore in large quantities by sea. Nickel ore is a key raw material used in the production of stainless steel and other alloys.

Most nickel ore is mined from open-pit mines in Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Caledonia, and is transported to smelters and refineries around the world. Nickel ore is typically transported in bulk carriers, which are specially designed ships that can handle large quantities of dry bulk cargo.

However, nickel ore shipping can be challenging due to the risk of liquefaction, which is a process where the cargo becomes unstable and can shift unexpectedly during transportation. This can cause the ship to list or capsize, which can lead to serious accidents and even loss of life.

To minimize the risk of liquefaction, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has established guidelines for the safe transport of nickel ore. These guidelines require shippers to provide detailed information about the moisture content and transportable moisture limit (TML) of the cargo, and require ship operators to take appropriate measures to prevent liquefaction during transportation.

Overall, bulk nickel ore shipping is an important part of the global supply chain for stainless steel and other alloys, but it requires careful planning and management to ensure safe and efficient transportation.

 

Nickel Ore Stowage Factor

The stowage factor of nickel ore can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the moisture content and the particle size of the ore. Generally, the stowage factor of nickel ore is around 0.60 to 0.80 cubic meters per ton, which means that one ton of nickel ore would take up 0.60 to 0.80 cubic meters of space in a ship’s cargo hold.

However, it’s important to note that the stowage factor of nickel ore can vary widely depending on the characteristics of the cargo. For example, if the nickel ore has a high moisture content or a high proportion of fine particles, it may have a lower stowage factor, as the cargo can become more compact and take up less space. Conversely, if the nickel ore has a low moisture content and a high proportion of larger particles, it may have a higher stowage factor.

Ultimately, the stowage factor of nickel ore will depend on the specific characteristics of the cargo, as well as the type and size of the ship being used to transport it. It’s important for ship operators to carefully calculate the stowage factor and ensure that the cargo is properly loaded and secured to prevent shifting or other safety hazards during transport.

Types of Nickel Ores

There are several types of nickel ores, each with its own unique characteristics and composition. Some of the most common types of nickel ores include:

  1. Pentlandite: This is the most important nickel ore mineral and is commonly found in sulfide deposits. Pentlandite has a metallic luster and can range in color from bronze-yellow to silver-white.
  2. Limonite: This is a secondary nickel ore mineral that is formed by the weathering of other nickel sulfide ores. Limonite is typically yellow-brown in color and has a dull or earthy appearance.
  3. Garnierite: This is a nickel-rich clay mineral that is found in laterite deposits. Garnierite is typically green in color and has a waxy or greasy feel.
  4. Polydymite: This is a rare nickel sulfide mineral that is typically found in ultramafic rocks. Polydymite has a metallic luster and can range in color from bronze-yellow to silver-white.
  5. Millerite: This is a nickel sulfide mineral that is commonly found in association with other sulfide minerals. Millerite has a metallic luster and can range in color from bronze-yellow to silver-white.
  6. Nickeliferous pyrrhotite: This is a nickel-bearing sulfide mineral that is commonly found in association with other sulfide minerals. Nickeliferous pyrrhotite has a metallic luster and can range in color from bronze-yellow to silver-white.

Each type of nickel ore has different physical and chemical properties, which can impact its processing and use in various applications. Understanding the characteristics of each type of nickel ore is important for miners, processors, and end-users who rely on nickel for their products and processes.

 

Bulk Nickel Ore Handling

Handling nickel ore requires careful attention and specialized equipment to ensure safe and efficient transport. Due to its tendency to liquefy, nickel ore is considered a high-risk cargo and must be handled with caution to prevent accidents and damage to both the cargo and the ship.

Some key considerations for handling bulk nickel ore include:

  1. Bulk Nickel Ore Moisture Content: Nickel ore can contain a significant amount of moisture, which can cause the cargo to liquefy during transport. This can increase the risk of shifting, loss of stability, and even capsizing. Therefore, it’s important to carefully monitor the moisture content of the cargo and ensure that it is within safe limits.
  2. Bulk Nickel Ore Cargo Quality: The quality of nickel ore can vary widely depending on factors such as particle size, chemical composition, and moisture content. It’s important to carefully inspect the cargo and test it for quality to ensure that it meets the specifications required for the intended use.
  3. Bulk Nickel Ore Loading and Unloading: The loading and unloading of nickel ore must be done carefully and with the appropriate equipment to prevent damage to the cargo and the ship. Specialized grab cranes or conveyor systems may be used to safely move the cargo.
  4. Bulk Nickel Ore Stowage: Nickel ore must be stowed carefully to prevent shifting during transport. Proper securing and ventilation are essential to prevent liquefaction and ensure the safety of the ship and crew.
  5. Bulk Nickel Ore Shipping Regulations: The transport of nickel ore is subject to various international regulations and guidelines, including the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. It’s important to comply with these regulations to ensure the safety of the cargo and the crew.

Overall, the handling of bulk nickel ore requires specialized equipment, careful attention to cargo quality and moisture content, and adherence to international regulations to ensure safe and efficient transport.

 

Bulk Nickel Ore Ocean Transportation

Transporting bulk nickel ore by sea requires careful attention to ensure the safety of the cargo, the ship, and the crew. Nickel ore is considered a high-risk cargo due to its potential to liquefy, which can cause instability and even capsizing of the ship.

Some key considerations for ocean transportation of bulk nickel ore include:

  1. Ship Selection for Bulk Nickel Ore Ocean Transportation: Selecting the appropriate ship for transporting nickel ore is important to ensure safe and efficient transport. The ship must be suitable for the cargo, taking into account factors such as cargo quantity, moisture content, and stowage requirements.
  2. Bulk Nickel Ore Loading and Unloading: Loading and unloading nickel ore must be done carefully to prevent damage to the cargo and the ship. It’s important to use specialized equipment and follow proper procedures to ensure safe handling.
  3. Bulk Nickel Ore Stowage: Proper stowage is critical to prevent shifting of the cargo during transport. Nickel ore must be stowed in a way that ensures stability and prevents liquefaction.
  4. Bulk Nickel Ore Ocean Transportation Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of the cargo during transport is essential to detect any changes in moisture content or other conditions that could affect the safety of the cargo or the ship.
  5. Bulk Nickel Ore Ocean Transportation Regulations: The transport of nickel ore is subject to various international regulations, including the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. Compliance with these regulations is essential to ensure the safety of the cargo and the crew.

Overall, transporting bulk nickel ore by sea requires careful attention to cargo quality and moisture content, proper ship selection and stowage, and adherence to international regulations. By following proper procedures and using specialized equipment, safe and efficient transport of bulk nickel ore can be achieved.

 

Nickel Ore Uses and Applications

Nickel ore is primarily used for the production of nickel metal, which is a key component in the manufacture of stainless steel and other alloys. Stainless steel is widely used in a range of applications, including construction, automotive manufacturing, and aerospace.

Nickel is also used in a range of other industrial and commercial applications, including:

  1. Batteries: Nickel is used in the production of rechargeable batteries, including nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.
  2. Electronics: Nickel is used in a range of electronic components, including connectors, switches, and microprocessors.
  3. Chemical Processing: Nickel is used in the production of a range of chemicals, including catalysts, pigments, and dyes.
  4. Aerospace: Nickel is used in the manufacture of aircraft engines and other components, due to its strength, corrosion resistance, and high-temperature properties.
  5. Medical Equipment: Nickel is used in the manufacture of medical equipment, including surgical instruments and prosthetics.

Overall, nickel ore plays a critical role in a wide range of industrial and commercial applications, and its importance is expected to continue to grow as demand for stainless steel and other nickel-based alloys increases.

 

Bulk Nickel Ore Cargo Liquefaction

Cargo liquefaction continues to stand as the primary catalyst for the loss of life associated with bulk carrier incidents, while grounding remains the principal cause of ship losses, as reported in the recently published Bulk Carrier Casualty Report 2013-2022 by INTERCARGO (International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners).

Submitted to the IMO (International Maritime Organization), prior to the 9th session of its esteemed Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III), the document exhibits a discernible trend of enhanced safety and diminishing ship losses amidst fleet expansion. However, it also reveals that significant events resulting in the loss of life are still transpiring. The report notably brings to light that from 2013 to 2022, 26 bulk carriers with a displacement of more than 10,000 DWT (deadweight tons) were reported lost, tragically claiming the lives of 104 seafarers.

Statistics for 2022 alone depict the loss of two (2) bulk carriers, one due to a collision and the other succumbing to power failure and sinking amidst rough seas, resulting in the loss of 12 seafarers’ lives in these harrowing incidents. Furthermore, the ongoing report emphasizes that four out of the five bulk carrier casualties, leading to the loss of 70 lives, were attributed to cargo liquefaction; four of these bulk carriers were laden with nickel ore, and one carried bauxite.

Regarding bulk carrier losses, grounding emerged as the most frequently reported cause from 2013 to 2022, accounting for the loss of 12 bulk carriers (46.2%), with diverse other factors including machinery and equipment issues.

 

What is Cargo Liquefaction?

Cargo liquefaction is a dangerous phenomenon that can occur when bulk cargo, typically fine particulate matter such as coal, nickel ore, or iron ore, becomes saturated with water. This can occur due to exposure to heavy rains, high humidity, or the inherent moisture content of the cargo itself. When this cargo is loaded onto a ship, it appears to be solid and stable. However, during the ship’s journey, vibrations and the movement of the ship can cause the cargo to start behaving like a liquid.

When cargo liquefies, it can shift suddenly and uncontrollably. If this shift is significant, it can lead to a loss of stability, causing the ship to list or even capsize. As a result, cargo liquefaction is a major safety concern in the shipping industry. The International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code provides guidance to prevent cargo liquefaction by stipulating safety measures, including proper testing of the cargo for transportable moisture limit (TML) and flow moisture point (FMP). It also provides guidelines on how to safely load and transport such cargoes.

To further understand the mechanics behind cargo liquefaction, it’s important to know a bit about soil mechanics. The phenomenon is closely related to a process that civil engineers refer to as “liquefaction.” This process can occur in saturated, loose, granular soils when they are suddenly loaded, such as during an earthquake. Under these conditions, the water pressure between the grains of the soil increases, reducing the contact forces between them and causing the soil to behave like a liquid.

When it comes to cargo like iron ore or nickel ore, these are typically granular materials, much like soil, and they can contain a significant amount of water. During the ship’s voyage, the cargo can be subjected to a variety of forces, such as the ship’s vibrations and movement, which can mimic the sudden loading that triggers liquefaction in soils. When the cargo liquefies, it can flow freely around the cargo hold, causing a sudden shift in the ship’s center of gravity.

To mitigate the risk of cargo liquefaction, the IMSBC Code provides several precautions and procedures. Before loading, the cargo should be tested for moisture content. If the moisture content exceeds the transportable moisture limit (TML), which is the maximum moisture content at which the cargo can remain stable under the expected voyage conditions, the cargo should not be loaded.

Additionally, proper drainage and sealing systems should be used to prevent the ingress of water during the voyage. The crew should also monitor the cargo throughout the voyage and take corrective action if signs of cargo shifting are noticed.

Despite these precautions, cargo liquefaction remains a significant hazard in maritime shipping, leading to several accidents and loss of lives over the years. Continued research and more advanced methods of moisture content detection and prediction of cargo behavior are needed to further reduce these risks.

 

What is Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) in Ship Chartering?

The Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) is a crucial safety measure in the shipping industry, particularly in bulk shipping of mineral ores, concentrates, and similar materials.

The Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) refers to the maximum allowable moisture content in a bulk cargo that is considered safe for transportation on ships. If the moisture content of the cargo exceeds the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML), the cargo may become fluid, leading to a phenomenon called liquefaction. This can destabilize the ship, causing it to list or even capsize, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Determining the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) is an important part of ship chartering when transporting bulk cargoes that are prone to liquefaction, such as nickel ore, iron ore fines, and certain types of coal. The TML is determined through laboratory testing of the cargo in accordance with internationally accepted testing methods.

The shipper is responsible for ensuring that the moisture content of the cargo is less than the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML). The actual moisture content and Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) must be declared by the shipper to the master of the ship before loading.

The concept of Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) and associated safety practices are established under the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, which is issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) is a guideline that is taken very seriously, and every effort is made to ensure that it is adhered to. The test used to determine the TML should reflect the actual conditions that the cargo may experience during shipping, including the compaction of the cargo and the vibration and motion of the ship.

In addition, it’s important to note that the moisture content of the cargo can change during the journey. For instance, if the cargo is exposed to rain or seawater during loading, or if the voyage passes through regions with high humidity, the moisture content could increase. Therefore, it’s often prudent to load cargo with a moisture content that’s well below the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) to provide a safety margin.

There is also a need for continuous monitoring of the cargo during the voyage. If there are any signs that the cargo may be approaching the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML), such as free water appearing on the surface of the cargo, immediate steps should be taken to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew. This could involve measures such as reducing the speed of the ship to minimize vibration, altering the course of the voyage to avoid rough weather, or in extreme cases, seeking a port of refuge.

Shipping companies, charterers, masters, and shippers should all be aware of the requirements of the IMSBC Code in relation to the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) and should implement appropriate procedures to ensure that these requirements are met. They should also ensure that all staff involved in the handling and transport of bulk cargoes are adequately trained and understand the dangers associated with the liquefaction of cargo.

 

What is Flow Moisture Point (FMP) in Ship Chartering?

Flow Moisture Point (FMP) is a crucial parameter related to the bulk cargo that is shipped worldwide. It is specifically relevant for bulk cargoes that have high moisture content, such as concentrates, mineral ores, and some types of coal.

Flow Moisture Point (FMP) refers to the maximum moisture content (typically expressed as a percentage) where a fine granulated bulk cargo may begin to lose its shear strength and flow under certain conditions. It’s the moisture content at which a loosely piled sample of the material will start to exhibit the properties of a liquid, which means it can flow or shift abruptly. The Flow Moisture Point (FMP) is determined in a laboratory by progressively adding water to a sample and observing the point at which it begins to flow.

In the context of ship chartering, knowing the Flow Moisture Point (FMP) of a cargo is critical for the ship’s stability. If a bulk cargo with high moisture content is loaded onto a ship and it exceeds its Flow Moisture Point (FMP), it may liquefy under the ship’s normal motions. This can lead to a shift in the cargo, which in turn can cause the ship to list or even capsize, posing serious safety risks.

Therefore, before accepting a bulk cargo for transport, ship charterers need to ensure that the cargo’s moisture content is safely below the Flow Moisture Point (FMP). International regulations, specifically the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, provide guidelines for the safe transportation of these types of cargo.

We kindly suggest that you visit the web page of IMO (International Maritime Organization) to learn more about Cargo Liquefaction, Transportable Moisture Limit (TML), and Flow Moisture Point (FMP). www.imo.org

 

 

Top Nickel Ore Exporting Countries

Currently, the top nickel ore exporting countries in the world are:

  1. Philippines: The Philippines is the largest exporter of nickel ore, accounting for around 25% of global nickel ore exports. The country’s vast nickel reserves and proximity to major Asian markets make it a key player in the global nickel market.
  2. Indonesia: Indonesia is the second-largest exporter of nickel ore, with around 20% of global exports. The country has significant nickel reserves and has been investing in infrastructure to support the growth of its mining industry.
  3. New Caledonia: New Caledonia is a French territory located in the Pacific Ocean, and is the third-largest exporter of nickel ore, accounting for around 10% of global exports. The country has significant nickel reserves and is a major supplier to markets in Asia and Europe.
  4. Australia: Australia is a major producer of nickel ore, accounting for around 10% of global production. The country is also a significant exporter of nickel ore, primarily to markets in Asia.
  5. Brazil: Brazil is a significant producer and exporter of nickel ore, with most of its exports going to China. The country’s rich nickel reserves and strong mining industry make it an important player in the global nickel market.

Other notable nickel ore exporting countries include Russia, Canada, and Colombia.