Bulk Carrier Guide Online
Bulk Carrier Guide Online
Home ||| Bulk Cargo ||| Planning ||| Care ||| Safety||| Self unloaders

Handling of bauxite - Loading, discharging & environmental impacts

Bauxite is one of the worldÂ’s most abundant minerals and is strip-mined in many places. Nearly all is processed into alumina for aluminium production. Bauxite contains iron-bearing clay or red mud, which often leaves stains on the hold paint that can prove difficult to remove.

Bauxite is an aluminium ore and is the main source of aluminium. This form of rock consists mostly of the minerals gibbsite Al(OH)3, boehmite y-AlO(OH), and diaspore a-AlO(OH), in a mixture with the two iron oxides goethite and hematite, the clay mineral kaolinite, and small amounts of anatase TiO2 A brownish-yellow clay-like and earthy mineral. Moisture content : 0% to 10 %. Insoluble in water.there are three main structural types of bauxite: Gibbsite; Bohmite :diaspore.

Consideration prior loading Bauxite

Bauxite is IMSBC Group A or C cargo. A brownish-yellow to red earthy ore of lumps and powder. Although not listed in the IMSBC Code as a Group A cargo, the recent (January 2015) loss of a bulk carrier and her crew has prompted IMO to issue a circular advising masters not to accept the commodity for shipment as a Group C cargo unless the moisture limit is certified as less than 10% and the particle size is as specified in the IMSBC Code schedule for bauxite. Otherwise, if the cargo is declared as Group A all requirements regarding TML and moisture content must be met.
Hold with bauxite stains
Fig: Hold with bauxite stains

Loading bauxite

Moisture content is critical. May liquefy. Relevant physical properties including moisture content must be checked prior to loading.

Trim in accordance with the relevant provisions required under section 4 and 5 of the Code As the density of the cargo is extremely high, the tank top may be overstressed unless the cargo is evenly spread across the tank top to equalize the weight distribution. Due consideration shall be paid to ensure that the tank top is not overstressed during voyage and during loading by a pile of the cargo.

Bauxite loading preparations

Remove all solid residues, sweep clean, and high-pressure wash with seawater. Depending on the previous cargo and the condition of the paint coating in the holds, chemical cleaning may be required.

Trim in accordance with the relevant provisions required under sections 4 and 5 of this Code. When the stowage factor of this cargo is equal to or less than 0.56 m3/t, the tank top may be overstressed unless the cargo is evenly spread across the tank top to equalize the weight distribution. Due consideration shall be given to ensure that the tank top is not overstressed during the voyage and during loading by a pile of the cargo

After discharge

Remove all solid residues and sweep clean; the application of chemicals diluted with freshwater may be needed to dry bulkheads. Seawater cleaning before the application of chemicals may reduce the effect of the chemicals and should only be done if heavy cargo deposits are present. Cleaning is completed by flushing with freshwater, working from the top down.

The Jamaica Bauxite case & environmental impact

The environmental impact of Jamaica bauxite mining symbolizes the majority of mining or heavy industrial operations. Bauxite mining, which is considered as surface mining, is land extensive, noisy and dusty.

Mining pits are often interspersed with small rural communities, thereby requiring companies relocate the people and/or to monetarily compensate them. An increasing concern is the loss of habitat for Jamaica's unique plant and animal species. Also, bauxite mining severely affects the water retention capability of the soil. The Jamaican Mining Act of 1947 requires mines to remove topsoil before mining, and restore it as part of the reclamation process. However, due to the enlargement of the surface area after mining, and the extraction of much bauxite, the soil is less capable of retaining water. Where formerly annual crops were grown, now only tree crops and pasture are feasible, and water reaches the aquifers more quickly.

Generally, farmers who reclaim the land receive extension services from these companies. Refineries and port facilities, besides handling bauxite and alumina, handle an enormous amount of fuel oil, caustic soda, lime, and other chemical inputs. Storage bunkers are situated close to the shore line and are relatively exposed generally resulting in spills occurring at the ports. The refineries are also subject to spills and other incidental releases. One of the major sources of air pollution is oil combustion for power generation and alumina calcining.

Two other environmental impacts of great concern is dust and caustic soda contamination. The particularly small size of both raw bauxite and alumina very often affect areas downwind of mining, transport, calcining, and ship loading operations. "During a visit to ALPART'S port facility economic officials observed a considerable amount of alumina spilled on the pier and clouds of dust being carried downwind from loading equipment." It has been argued that the dust is chemically inert, however it adversely affects the respiratory system, pollutes the residential cisterns, and defaces property. The degradation of Jamaica's delicate coral reefs along its south coast is as a result of alumina spilling during ship loading

The main pollutant that are released are caustic acid which, through spills or dumping, make their way to creeks and rivers and cause fish kill, where dead fish can be seen floating on the water.

Another bauxite loading port Pontianak (Indonesia) & Discharging port Shandong (China)

CARRIAGE OF BAUXITE WHICH MAY LIQUEFY Information retrieved from IMO CCC.1/Circ.2/Rev.1, 20 September 2017

  1. The Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC), at its second session (14 to 18 September 2015), considered matters related to the carriage of Bauxite, including some initial considerations of the circumstances surrounding the loss of the 10-year-old Bahamas flag Supramax bulk carrier Bulk Jupiter with the loss of 18 lives on 2 January 2015. In this context, the Sub-Committee noted that loss of the aforementioned ship may have been caused by liquefaction of the cargo.

  2. Bauxite is described in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code as a Group C cargo. However, subsequent work undertaken by the industry Global Bauxite Working Group (GBWG) in conjunction with competent Authorities indicate that Bauxite presents a risk caused by moisture. As such some Bauxite cargoes should be treated as Group A cargoes.

  3. The Sub-Committee, at its second session, approved CCC.1/Circ.2 to raise awareness on the potential risks posed by moisture in the carriage of Bauxite. The advice provided by this circular has been superseded by the outcome of the research undertaken.

  4. The Sub-Committee, at its fourth session (11 to 15 September 2017), having noted that some Bauxite cargoes should be classified as Group A, finalized:

    .1 the draft Test Procedure for Determining the TML for Bauxite;
    .2 the draft individual schedule for Bauxite of Group A having the Bulk Cargo Shipping Name "BAUXITE FINES"; and
    .3 the draft amendments to the individual schedule for Bauxite of Group C, as set out in annexes 1 to 3, respectively, for submission to the Maritime Safety Committee.
    5 The Sub-Committee, noting that:

    .1 a Bauxite cargo of Group A is not listed in the IMSBC Code and shall be carried in accordance with subsection 1.3 of the Code;
    .2 the draft amendments referred to in paragraph 4 are expected to be adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 101, in 2019) and the date of entry into force of these draft amendments to the IMBSC Code is expected to be 1 January 2021, decided to invite Member States to take the aforementioned draft Test Procedure and draft individual schedules for Bauxite of Group A and Group C into consideration at the time of:
    .1 classification of Bauxite cargoes as Group A or Group C; and
    .2 setting the preliminary suitable conditions for the carriage of this cargo in accordance with subsection 1.3 of the Code, when the cargo is classified as Group A.

  5. Member States are invited to note the following observation by the GBWG: "That an atypical motion of the ship (wobbling) may also be indicative of cargo instability. The master should take appropriate action." This atypical motions (or wobble) is caused by the movement of a free surface slurry over the top of the cargo which is out of phase with the roll period of the ship. If left unchecked this movement of cargo has the potential to further reduce stability and the risk of capsize.

  6. Member States are also invited to bring the above information to the attention of shippers, terminal operators, shipowners, ship operators, charterers, shipmasters and all other entities concerned, requesting that extreme care and appropriate action be taken, taking into account the provisions of relevant IMO instruments when handling and carrying Bauxite in bulk.


The provisions of this schedule shall apply to Bauxite cargoes containing both:

.1 more than 30% of fine particles less than 1 mm (D30 < 1 mm); and
.2 more than 40% of particles less than 2.5 mm (D40 < 2.5 mm).

Notwithstanding the above provision, Bauxite cargo meeting the above criterion may be carried as a Group C cargo in accordance with the provisions of the individual schedule for BAUXITE where the shipper provides the master with a certificate, in accordance with the result of the test approved by the competent authority of port of loading*, stating that the moisture of the cargo freely drains from the cargo so that the degree of saturation is not liable to reach 70%.

Description of Bauxite

A reddish-brown to brownish-yellow clay-like and earthy mineral. Insoluble in water.

Hazards of Bauxite

This cargo may liquefy if shipped at a moisture content in excess of its Transportable Moisture Limit (TML). This cargo may suffer instability due to moisture content resulting in dynamic separation and formation of a liquid slurry (water and fine solids) above the solid material, resulting in a free surface effect which may significantly affect the ship's stability. This cargo is not liable to undergo dynamic separation when the cargo is shipped below its TML. This cargo is non-combustible or has a low fire-risk.

Stowage & segregation : No special requirements.

Hold cleanliness : No special requirements.

Weather precautions: When a cargo is carried in a ship other than a ship complying with the requirements in subsection 7.3.2 of this Code, the following provisions shall be complied with: the moisture content of the cargo shall be kept less than its TML during loading operations and the voyage; .2 unless expressly provided otherwise in this individual schedule, the cargo shall not be handled during precipitation; .3 unless expressly provided otherwise in this individual schedule, during handling of the cargo, all non-working hatches of the cargo spaces into which the cargo is loaded or to be loaded shall be closed; .4 the cargo may be handled during precipitation under the conditions stated in the procedures required in subsection 4.3.3 of this Code; and .5 the cargo in a cargo space may be discharged during precipitation provided that the total amount of the cargo in the cargo space is to be discharged in the port.

Loading Trim in accordance with the relevant provisions required under sections 4 and 5 of this Code. When the stowage factor of this cargo is equal to or less than 0.56 m3/t, the tank top may be overstressed unless the cargo is evenly spread across the tank top to equalize the weight distribution. Due consideration shall be given to ensure that the tank top is not overstressed during the voyage and during loading by a pile of the cargo.

Precautions Bilge wells shall be clean, dry and covered as appropriate, to prevent ingress of the cargo. The bilge system of a cargo space to which this cargo is to be loaded shall be tested to ensure it is working.

Ventilation No special requirements.


The appearance of the surface of this cargo shall be checked regularly, including at least daily visual inspections where condition permits, during voyage. If free water or a liquid slurry above the cargo or fluid state of the cargo is observed, including the flattening of the cargo, during voyage, the master shall take appropriate actions to prevent cargo shifting, loss of stability due to free surface effect and potential capsize of the ship, and give consideration to seeking emergency entry into a place of refuge. Cargo hold bilges shall be sounded at regular intervals and pumped out, as necessary.

An atypical motion of the ship (wobbling) may also be indicative of cargo instability and the master shall consider appropriate action.

Discharge : No special requirements.

Clean-up : No special requirements.

Related Information

  1. Hazards of handling copper concentrate

  2. Mineral concentrates & mineral sands loading guideline

  3. Hazards of handling bulk sulphur

  4. Loading, carrying and discharging of bulk coal

  5. Special precaution & IMSBC code guideline for handling bulk coal

  6. Special arrangements for carrying grain cargo

  7. Grain handling precautions - various limitations

  8. Safety precautions for loading and carriage of iron ores

  9. Risk of carrying high density iron ores in bulk

  10. Salt loading guideline - Precautions & hold preparation

  11. Pig iron preparations for bulk loading

  12. Procedure for fishmeal loading in bulk

  13. Risk of iron ore liquefaction during sea passage & countermeasures

  14. Petcoke loading in bulk & associated problems for bulk carriers

  15. Carrying gypsum -Toxins, physical reactions & environmental degradation

  16. Cargo liquefaction & potential problem for transporting bulk cargo

    Practice of draft survey & measurement of bulk cargo loaded or discharged

Top articles

  1. Bulk carrier types - Ore carriers, OBO ships, forest product carrier , self unloader and more

  2. Care of cargo during loading- Trimming pours

  3. Checklist for confirming stabilty and hull stress prior loading

  4. Cargo loading agreement between ship and terminal

  5. Bulk carrier loading manual

  6. Handling of deballasting (ship duties) during high loading rate

  7. Cargo and ballast handling guide

  8. Responsibility of ship during cargo operation

  9. Shipboard hazards & bulk carriers safety guideline

  10. Asymmetric cargo and ballast distribution for bulk carriers

  11. Limitations on exceeding load lines

  12. Risk of deviation from the loading limitations

  13. Cargo handling guidance for deck officers

    Ventilation requirement for bulk cargo loaded

  14. Preparation for ships carrying bulk cargo & standard loading condition

  15. Monitoring cargo operation safety checks in a bulk terminal

  16. How to avoid cargo damage by applying proper ventilation methods

  17. Measures against liquefaction of bulk cargo

  18. How to plan cargo discharge in a safe manner ?

Our detail pages illustrated many safety aspects of Bulk carrier

Home page |||Bulk carrier types ||| Handling of bulk coal |||Cargo planning ||| Carriage of grain |||Risk of iron ores |||Self unloading bulk carriers |||Care of cargo & vessel |||Cargoes that may liquefy |||Suitability of ships |||Terminal guideline |||Hold cleaning |||Cargo cranes |||Ballast handling procedure |||Bulk carrier safety |||Fire fighting systems |||Bulk carrier General arrangement

Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please Contact us

Copyright © 2010 bulkcarrierguide.com All rights reserved.

Although every effort have been taken to improve the accuracy of content provided the publisher of this website cannot gaurantee for errors. Disclaimer Privacy policy Home page