Pandiman Philippines Inc. is very proud to contribute to the article with regards to the Philippines.
Nickel ore is used to produce stainless steel and is very much
a part of modern life. China is the largest importer and the
Philippines provides up to 30m WMT (wet metric ton) of this
demand a year. Many articles have been written on the danger
of liquefaction from nickel ore; however, the practical issue that
should be borne in mind with nickel ore cargo loaded from the
Philippines is that the cargo is inherently wet. Whatever the
reason, the local climate has changed from 25 years ago, when
there was a clear distinction between the dry and rainy season.
Today, in the areas of the southern Philippines where nickel ore
is loaded, it rains all year round.
Surigao and the surrounding islands are the most popular
locations for loading nickel ore. The port of Surigao, a small
provincial port, has no loading facilities. The actual loading will
most likely take place at Adlay, Carrascal, over 40 nautical miles
away. This can lead to confusion, especially when masters are
expecting a port with a pier and loading facilities. The waters
around this area are subject to strong rip tides. Several loaded
vessels have run aground in Dinagat Sound, so masters of
loaded vessels should navigate with extreme caution and
consider a more prudent departure to open ocean to the east.
These areas of nickel ore production are in extremely remote
areas, where the mining is open cast and the nickel ore is
stockpiled on the shore and thereby exposed to the elements.
The nickel ore is transferred from the stockpiles by barge to a
vessel normally anchored a mile or more offshore. Due to there
being no actual facilities, the trade utilises Handymax size
vessels, which can self-load the cargo via ship’s grabs. A normal
shipment is 55,000mt. Two decades ago, in the dry season, this
could be loaded in seven days. However, with the change in
climate, the average time is now three weeks or more.
It is therefore necessary to ensure that the cargo certificates
remain valid throughout the loading process. If rainfall occurs
prior to or during loading, the master should request that new
moisture content tests are carried out. If there are any concerns
or doubts about the validity of the moisture content, the master
should ensure that loading operations are suspended until newly
updated information about the cargo has been received.
Length of voyage should never be a defining factor in deciding if
a cargo is suitable to carry. It should also be remembered that
the IMSBC code clearly states the limitations of the can test, and
even a satisfactory can test does not mean that a cargo of nickel
ore complies with the IMSBC code and is safe to carry. The
human eye is also insufficient in determining whether a cargo
complies with the IMSBC code. The only way to ensure that the
cargo is compliant is through analysis carried out under correct
protocols. Comparisons of certificates issued by the local mines
with independent analysis of samples undertaken abroad show a
significant difference, with errors of between 8% and 10% in
FMP (flow moisture point).
In 2019, nearly half of the 31 registered nickel ore mines in the
Philippines were suspended either due to administrative or
environmental issues. With the ban on nickel ore export from
1 January 2020 in Indonesia, this will further strain the
Philippines to fill demand. Regarding the reliance on certificates
issued by local mines, on every occasion when we have sent
samples for independent analysis due to concerns about the
moisture content, the mines’ certificates have failed.
To download the the whole article, please click the the link below.
Also view this article on our Survey Specialists Inc. link website below.