Bloomberg News

Nickel Ore, Deadliest Bulk Cargo, Spurs Group to Set Guidelines

February 02, 2012

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- A shipping industry group drew up guidelines for loading cargoes of nickel ore, calling the trade the deadliest among seaborne dry-bulk commodities after 66 mariners died in the last 15 months.

“All these losses of lives were preventable, and it needs addressing now,” David Jones, manager of the London-based International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners, or Intercargo, said yesterday in an interview. “In recent years, this is where we are seeing the most casualties.”

The ore is at risk of liquefying if it contains too much moisture, which can make ships unstable and cause them to capsize, according to Jones. Liquefied nickel-ore cargoes accounted for all of the 44 deaths among dry-bulk sailors in the final nine weeks of 2010, a June report from Intercargo showed.

Nickel is used to protect stainless steel from corrosion. Intercargo’s four-page guide on safe loading of the ore warns of the dangers of false or inaccurate declarations at loading ports to address a lack of education, according to Jones.

“These cargoes are loaded at archipelago regions from pretty primitive areas that aren’t like traditional ports with quays and sheds, and even have no tarpaulins to keep things dry,” he said. The ore is mined in Indonesia, the Philippines and New Caledonia and mainly shipped to China for use in the steel industry, Jones said.

On average, 26 lives were lost each year on ships hauling all bulk cargoes from 2001 to 2010, according to Intercargo, which represents owners of dry-bulk vessels.

--Editors: Dan Weeks, Nicholas Larkin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Wiese Bockmann in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at

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