Iron Fines that may Contain DRI (C) Fines

The process of manufacturing Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) from iron ore and the subsequent hot briquetting procedures generate unwanted by-products in the form of dust and broken chips during most of the stages. Some manufacturers recover these materials and offer them for shipment. Historically, such cargoes have mainly originated from Venezuela and Trinidad, although shipments have also been made from the United States, Mexico and Libya. This cargo has been responsible for a number of casualties in the past, most notably the bulk carrier YTHAN in 2004 in which six crew members lost their lives during explosions that occurred in four of her five cargo holds and which also resulted in the loss of the vessel.

2013.02.06 - Iron Fines that may Contain DRI (C) Fines

Despite extensive publicity cargoes are still being offered and shipped that do not have DRI in their descriptions, but which in fact are blends that contain a significant proportion of DRI (C) fines. Descriptions have included:

  • reoxidised iron fines
  • iron fines (blend)
  • iron ore pellet chips
  • oxide fines
  • pond fines
  • sludge fines
  • remets
  • clarifier slush and dust
  • spent iron fines
  • lodos

Other similar cargoes include DRI in the description but are offered on the basis that they are not DRI (C) and therefore do not need to be carried in accordance with the IMSBC Code schedule for DRI (C). Even if the cargo offered is not DRI (C), in some instances stockpiles are adjacent and non DRI cargo can become contaminated with DRI fines. 

For the avoidance of doubt it is the position of the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG) that cargoes with DRI in their descriptions should be declared using the appropriate Bulk Cargo Shipping Name (BCSN) for a DRI (C) cargo and should be prepared, loaded and carried in accordance with the provisions of the IMSBC Code. 

The following information to be obtained before loading.

Cargo blends containing DRI (C) can be identified by their chemical composition, the details of which must be requested.

  • the total iron content (Fe),
  • the metallic (or free) iron content (Feº) 
  • the moisture content.

This information should preferably be supported by the testing laboratory with a certificate containing the following information

  • direct relation of the certificate to the cargo that is being offered for shipment (meaning no generic analysis information)
  • methods and standards that have been used for obtaining the samples that have been tested (preferably ISO 10835: 2000)
  • the standards that have been followed to determine the metallic iron content (preferably BS ISO 5416 : 2006)
  • date on which the sampling took place
  • if moisture content is above 0.3%  then the certificate should state the transportable moisture limit and actual moisture content of the shipment

The iron in a cargo of iron ore is chemically bound with other elements and therefore contains no metallic (or free) iron. If the cargo contains any metallic iron (Feº), then it must be a DRI derivative; DRI (A) and DRI (B) cargoes typically contain about 85% metallic iron, whereas in blends containing DRI (C) it can be as low as 1% or 2%. Such blended cargoes should be regarded as the hazardous commodity DRI (C) and be carried in accordance with the provisions of the IMSBC Code

Having identified a cargo as being DRI (C), the IMSBC Code sets out the information that must be provided to the master. 

For cargoes that are listed in Appendix 1 of the IMSBC Code such as DRI (C), Section 1.5 allows a competent authority to authorize any other provision or exemption if satisfied that such alternative provision is at least as effective and safe as that required by the IMSBC Code. Three competent authorities are recognised:

  1. the port state of departure
  2. port state of arrival 
  3. the flag state

Prior to any shipment covered by such an exemption, the recipient of the exemption must notify the other competent authorities concerned who may or may not accept that exemption.

For cargoes that are offered for transport in accordance with an exemption as described above, the loading, carriage and safety procedures must be clearly stated. In particular, the master must be informed on the following:

  • the ventilation rates and durations for each cargo space
  • the required standard of explosion protection of the ventilation fans
  • details of the arrangement of ventilation ducts into the holds
  • the method and frequency of monitoring the hydrogen concentrations in each cargo space
  • the method and frequency of monitoring the cargo temperatures inside each cargo space
  • the criteria defining an emergency
  • the procedures to be followed in the event of emergency
  • shipper’s contact numbers in the event of emergency
  • the procedures to be followed before and during discharge

The above information can also be found  from P&I Clubs in the International Group of P&I Clubs:

Additional information regarding DRI Fines can be found on the  Hot Briquetted Iron Association (HBIA) publication regarding Direct Reduced Iron Fines Guide for Handling, Maritime Carriage, and Storage

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: