With the nation’s steel mills cutting production and banking blast furnaces, iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes fell significantly in November. The trade totaled 4.9 million net tons, a decrease of 11 percent compared to both a year ago and November’s 5-year average. Shipments will erode even further in December. Since mid-November, 10 U.S.-Flag lakers have laid up early, including a 1,000-footer that is dedicated to the iron ore trade. In total, 12 U.S.-Flag lakers have been withdrawn from service, and at least two others are slated to end their seasons in the next few days.
The crisis in steel came on quickly. As a result, for the year, the Great Lakes iron ore trade remains ahead of last year’s pace. Shipments through November stand at 56.2 million net tons, an increase of 6.4 percent compared to a year ago. The trade is 5.9 percent ahead of the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe.