Iron Ore Shipping

Most of the world’s metals are produced from smelting mineral ores, such as iron ore or bauxite, and in most cases the smelting is carried out at some distance from the mine. Iron Ore, for the production of iron and steel, is the single largest product traded within this group. In 2001 about 450 million tons of iron ore were moved in ships. Most ores are a good deal more dense than coal (coal has a stowage factor of around
50 cubic feet per tonne compared with about 14 cubic feet per tonne for a typical iron ore) and at one time ore was carried in specialized bulk carriers with relatively small holds on top of large double-bottom ballast tanks to cope with this characteristic. Nowadays, ores are carried for the most part in general purpose bulk carriers, most of which have flexible ballasting arrangements and strengthened bulkheads to allow them to carry a much wider range of bulk cargoes. Ores are normally loaded and discharged at specialized terminals. Typically, an ore- loading terminal will have deep water alongside, to allow large bulk carriers to be loaded and extensive stocking areas feeding cargo into the ship by a series of high- volume conveyors. Specialized gantry-type grab fitted cranes will usually carry out discharging, with cargo being removed from the quay by conveyor belts to storage compounds.