India - Testing of Iron Ore Fines for Transportable Moisture Limit

13th December 2016

As advised in the Club’s recent news article SOLAS – Amendments to the IMSBC Code (Amendment 03-15) - Reminder, a new schedule for Iron Ore Fines, and a new test procedure for determining Transportable Moisture Limit (TML), the modified Proctor / Fagerberg test procedure for iron ore fines, will be mandated from 1st January 2017.

For a number of years the Director General of Shipping (DGS) India, has approved local laboratories to carry out tests as provided for in Appendix 2 of the IMSBC Code, to determine the TML of material which may liquefy. The latest list detailing DGS approved laboratories, the validity of their approval, and the test methods which they are approved to use can be found here. It will be noted that at the present time none of the listed laboratories are yet approved to carry out the modified Proctor / Fagerberg test procedure for iron ore fines.  The Club has seen TML test certification issued by laboratories in India using the modified Proctor / Fagerberg method, however, it should be considered that attempting to export cargoes where the TML has been determined using a test method for which the laboratory has not been approved by the DGS, could lead to difficulties with the authorities.

It should also be considered that the TML determined using the various test methods will differ. Typically, for a given sample of cargo, the penetration test will give the lowest TML, the flow table test will give a higher TML, the Proctor / Fagerberg test will give an even higher TML, with the modified Proctor / Fagerberg test giving the highest TML of all test methods. The Club has seen cases where the moisture content of an iron ore fines cargo presented for loading in India has been below the TML determined by the modified Proctor / Fagerberg test, although it has been higher than that determined by a flow table test, and therefore could not be loaded as the flow table test was the only methodology approved by DGS.

Although the DGS has recently published a procedure for the approval of the new test method, as of the date of this article, so far as the Club is aware, no laboratories have yet been approved to use the modified Proctor / Fagerberg test for iron ore fines. Members loading iron ore fines in Indian ports, either originating in India or being transhipped should therefore check the test methodology used to determine the TML, and ensure that the laboratory is approved by the DGS to undertake that type of testing to determine TML.

Members requiring further guidance should contact the Loss Prevention department.

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