Great Lakes-Seaway Season Sails Toward Positive Close

press release
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

U.S. ports continued to post positive tonnage numbers in November. The Seaway’s 2011 year-to-date total cargo shipments from March 22 to November 30 were 33 million metric tons, up 1.23 percent from the same period last year.


“With only one of the big three commodities, coal, bettering last year’s pace by 22,000 metric tons, the year-to-date performance of other bulk commodities like petroleum products (up 80 percent), salt (up 32 percent), scrap metal (up 49 percent), and other general cargo like wind turbine components (up 50  percent), have kept this year’s Seaway tonnage on a par with 2010,” says Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “Vessel transits are up 7 percent and, with an expected strong performance in December, we’re within striking distance of meeting a 2 percent increase in tonnage over last season.”


The Port of Cleveland experienced a 60 percent jump in project cargo volume during the first 11 months of the year, largely as a result of the increase in movement of imported and exported machinery, and the Port’s first-time handling of a wind turbine from Europe. “We have worked diligently to ensure that companies throughout our region look to the Port as a cost-effective and capable partner in transporting their cargo around the world,” said David Gutheil, the Port’s Vice President of Maritime and Logistics. “We’re forecasting continued growth this year and next in our handling of project cargo.”


The Toledo Port Authority saw an increase in iron ore shipments for the month. “Tonnage at the CSX Iron Ore dock was up 28 percent over the same period in 2010. The terminal has handled over 4 million metric tons to date, marking its best season since 2008,” explained Joseph Cappel, director of cargo development at the Port. There were also increases in shipments of petroleum products and general cargo, up 118 percent and 30 percent respectively over the same time last year.


Coal shipments, down at most Great Lakes ports, showed an uptick in Indiana. “Even with a month left in the shipping season, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled more cargo this year than any other year since 2006,” said Rich Cooper, CEO of the Ports of Indiana. “Our shipments of steel, coal, fertilizer, wheat, limestone, oil and road salt have all well-surpassed last year’s final totals. We were fortunate to have a spike in our coal business and handled nearly four times as much coal as we did in 2010. We’ve also had large volumes of barge shipments moving steel, fertilizer, grain, asphalt and project cargo within the Lakes and through the Mississippi River system to and from the Gulf of Mexico.”


St. Lawrence Seaway shipments of iron ore and coke were up at 55 percent and 14 percent respectively compared to November 2010. Coal shipments totaled 410,000 metric tons in November, a 9 percent decrease from the same month last year. Total grain shipments for November were 1.4 million metric tons, down 13 percent from 2010.

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