Ice Took Heavy Toll on Lakes Coal in April

By Eric Haun
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ice formation, the likes of which have not been seen since 1994, dramatically slowed coal shipments on the Great Lakes in April. Loadings totaled only 995,000 tons, a decrease of nearly 55 percent compared to a year ago.

Compared to the month’s five-year average, April shipments were down nearly 57 percent.

The biggest drop came from Lake Superior ports. The only way vessels could safely cross Lake Superior in April was to be convoyed by U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers, and as a result, shipments plummeted 80 percent. It was not until May 2 that vessels were allowed to transit Lake Superior unescorted.

Year-to-date the Lakes coal trade stands at 1,470,000 tons, a decrease of 47.6 percent compared to a year ago, and 56 percent below the long-term average for the January-April timeframe.

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year. Those cargos support more than 103,000 jobs with an average wage of $47,000.

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association.
 

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