Ferrous Ores

Numerous minerals capable of transport by sea can be collated by the uses to which they are put. Thus ores used in the iron and steel industries and the compounds and alloys created from these ores can legitimately form the Ferrous Ores Family. From its sheer volume alone, by far the most important of all minerals is iron-ore, moved in bulk in huge quantities from deposits to iron and steel works around the world. Other ferrous ores, despite being more limited in volume nevertheless play their own important role in this market and are also normally shipped in bulk, although in somewhat smaller vessels than the large ships commonly employed to serve the deepwater facilities enjoyed by the iron-ore trade. Mixture and part processing of these minerals produces compounds and alloys which in turn form cargoes moving between iron and steelworks perhaps many hundreds of miles apart. Because of the enormous quantities of product involved, it is inevitable that specialised ore charterparties have evolved to serve the trade. Some of these are published by particular corporations connected to the business of mining and/or marketing ore, others cover a particular type of ore, possibly from a certain area or port – eg: The Iron Ore C/P 1961 – ex Lower Buchanan, Liberia – codenamed LAMCON. Yet other ores and related cargoes are fixed on multi-purpose documents such as the ubiquitous GENCON C/P. Prominent among specialised ore charterparties, however, are:-

a) The C ‘ORE’ 7 Mediterranean Ore C/P
b) The Japan Shipping Exchange Iron Ore C/P – NIPPONORE
c) BIMCO’s General Ore C/P, 1962 – GENORECON

Ferrous ores and alloys are heavy and dense, thereby occupying only a small space for every tonne. It is important, however, that the carrying vessel’s cargo compartments can safely sustain such heavy cargoes, and most modern bulk carriers engaged in these trades will have ore-strengthened tanktops. Although the angles of repose of such materials are usually greater than the critical 35°, it will usually be necessary to trim such cargoes so as to cover the entire tank top area, both to make the cargo less likely to shift at sea and to spread weights more evenly on the load-bearing parts of the ship. Some of the largest bulkcarriers, together with combination-ships (ore/oilers and oil/bulk/ore vessels) will be found engaged in moving iron-ore, some of these ships built specially for the carriage of this commodity with small, strong holds, limited by lack of cubic capacity from carrying a full deadweight of lighter cargo such as coal. Such vessels are termed ore-carriers (see Volume One) and because of their lack of trading flexibility, are normally employed in the carriage of iron-ore on a long-term basis. Because of the immense volume of iron-ore required by world industry, much of which must be moved at sea, and because of the value of the commodity, the seaborne trade is very milch one that benefits from economy of scale; deepwater ports and berths being served by large vessels – often of 100,000 tonnes deadweight or more -loaded and discharged by sophisticated port equipment in a short time. Other ferrous ores and their alloys are restricted to smaller tonnage and are moved in smaller vessels, often from less well-equipped loading ports. If loaded in wet condition there will inevitably be some weight loss on the cargo out-turn but, if dry, ores can be very dusty. Generally, however, ferrous ores and alloys; with certain exceptions, form safe non-hazardous cargoes, provided the great weights are taken into account, and the ship is not unduly stressed during loading and discharging.