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The need for continued vigilance and awareness of the potential cargo risks that may be involved when carrying solid bulk cargoes was again highlighted by the sinking of the bulk carrier “Bulk Jupiter” on 2 Jan 2015, with the tragic loss of 18 of her 19 crew members. The Bahamian flag State investigation has determined liquefaction of the Bauxite cargo as the most probable cause of this unfortunate casualty, with both the inclusion of a higher quantity of fine materials in the cargo to that described in the IMSBC Code schedule, together with a higher moisture content, due to the exceptionally high rainfall experienced prior to shipping, as the most likely contributory factors. Addressing those safety concerns, IMO issued a circular CCC.1/Circ.2 in October 2015 calling for increased scrutiny for the potential dangers of Bauxite cargoes prior to shipping.

You may have downloaded the INTERCARGO Bulk Carrier Casualty Report (click here to download). As highlighted in the Casualty Report, liquefaction has been a serious concern of bulk carrier industry.

An article (click here to download) of the publication “Dry Cargo International” (DCI) in its Issue No. 189 March 2016, quoted the comments and concerns of INTERCARGO on cargo safety especially liquefaction. The comments advised an IMO Sub-Committee (Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers or short name “CCC”) to evaluate the properties of bauxite. This evaluation was carried out by an IMO Correspondence Group. INTERCARGO has been part of the IMO evaluation process and is able to update members on bauxite issues as follows:

1) On 13 Jun 2916, IMO made a report “CCC 3-5-1 – Report of the Correspondence Group on Evaluation of Properties of BAUXITE and COAL (Japan)” available on its website (restricted access only by Member States and NGOs), reporting progress on:
• Consideration of the marine safety investigation report on the loss of the bulk carrier Bulk Jupiter;
• Preparation of a draft new individual schedule for Bauxite as Group A cargo and review the existing Bauxite schedule, as necessary.

2) Australian, Brazilian and Chinese Bauxite research groups had established a Global Bauxite Working Group (GBWG) and planned to provide a global industry peer review report for CCC 4 (the 4th session of CCC, likely around Sept 2017). Those industry groups have been discussing their respective research programs. It seems to be clear that the characteristics of Bauxite vary depending on the location of mining. The group has already been informed and noted of the varying particle size distribution of Bauxite exported from Australia, Brazil and China for example.

3) IMO Correspondence Group decided to adjourn the consideration on Bauxite and recommended the CCC Sub-Committee to wait for the results of the research by the GBWG, which will be provided to CCC 4 for further consideration.

4) INTERCARGO expressed its view on the postponement of the process: “we are somewhat disappointed that an extension to the Bauxite Study has become necessary as we believe it is of paramount important to ensure the schedules in the Code reflect the actual risks of carriage, especially, following the Bulk Jupiter tragedy. However, we fully understand that achieving consensus often takes longer than anticipated and so we support the proposal by the coordinator on the way forward”. Those comments has been included in the report “CCC 3-5-1” (para 8.1 on page 4)

The report “CCC 3-5-1 – Report of the Correspondence Group on Evaluation of Properties of BAUXITE and COAL (Japan)” will be provided for internal reference upon request.

Comments and views:

Comments and views on liquefaction and other cargo safety issues from Members are welcome and appreciated