Transportable Moisture Limit Testing

Melbourne Laboratory


Multiple Projects





All Regions

Transport Moisture Limit (TML) Testing

Since 1988 over 20 incidents of liquefaction of solid bulk cargoes in transit are suspected of having caused bulk carriers to capsize. The resulting loss of lives and resources called for a review of the international maritime legislation concerning the export of metal ores and concentrates.

In 2011, ATC Williams was contacted by exporters of metal ores and concentrates to perform testing to determine the Flow Moisture Point (FMP) and identify the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) of materials that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) had recently listed as Group A cargo (cargo which may liquefy in transit) in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code.

— Features and solutions

Our laboratory has worked toward perfecting and further developing the Flow Table and Proctor/Fagerberg tests outlined in the IMSBC code. NATA accreditation was obtained for in-house developed test methods while testing a wide range of ores and concentrates, such as iron ore fines, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, gold, bauxite, manganese, mineral sand concentrate, and coal.

Routine TML testing on samples of iron ore fines for several iron ore exporters is conducted. Testing has included the determination of Particle Density (SG) in accordance with AS1289 and the Proctor/Fagerberg C and D hammer procedures to determine the TML in accordance with Appendix 2 of the IMSBC Code.

ATC Williams proudly contributed to developing the Modified Proctor/Fagerberg D Hammer Test, which is now the accepted method for determining the TML of iron ore fines in accordance with IMSBC Code – Appendix 2.

Laboratory testing programs investigate the TML of manganese ore, typically classified by the Particle Size Distribution (PSD), Particle Density (SG), Proctor/Fagerberg TML and the Flow Table FMP and TML tests. Samples tested include various material types from ‘run of mine’ to fine-grade material. Flow Table and Proctor/Fagerberg TML tests have allowed a better understanding of the material’s behaviour under different density conditions.

In 2014, a proficiency testing program assisted in the development of a laboratory test method for the determination of the TML of Coal. The Modified Proctor/Fagerberg Method for Coal was completed and submitted to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and added to Appendix 2 of the IMSBC Code.

ATC Williams now performs TML testing for commercial coal exporters and holds NATA accreditation for the Modified Proctor/Fagerberg Method for Coal.

The development and receipt of NATA accreditation for the new TML test methods assist our clients in safely transporting valuable mineral resources worldwide. This contributes to economic growth, saving lives, and protecting our marine environment from potential contamination.


The ever-growing mining industry demands optimised cost-effective designs and increased OH&S requirements during all aspects of mining. Ores and minerals are often transported by sea in cargo ships or large bulk carriers for final processing. The Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) test, coupled with a suitable moisture management plan, is critical in preventing liquefaction and capsizing of large bulk carriers, saving lives and resources. The TML of cargo is the maximum gross water content by weight that liquefiable solid bulk cargo may contain during transport without risk of liquefaction. The liquefaction phenomenon can see materials, most commonly iron ore fines, nickel ore, and various mineral concentrates, transform from a solid dry state to following the laws of fluid dynamics. Liquefaction can occur with the compaction of cargo under its weight and through the vibration of the ship’s engine and the wave motion that occurs during a voyage, with poor weather conditions or high seas sometimes aiding this process. When cargo suddenly liquefies, it can significantly reduce the stability of bulk cargo ships. For decades this was one of the leading causes of casualties at sea.

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