While total cargo movements through the St. Lawrence Seaway in August remained in the negative column (down 9 percent over 2012), the 19.3 million metric tons of cargo moved through the system represented an improvement over last month's statistics. Ingenuity and resourcefulness, hallmarks of the Seaway System and its users, were evident at U.S. ports around the region.
U.S. ports spent the generally slow month of August continuing work on infrastructure projects and securing new cargo shipments.
"So far in 2013 we have seen general cargo volumes double over last year at the Port of Toledo. This is a good sign that the port is building momentum and that our investments in the equipment and infrastructure at the facility are paying off," said Joe Cappel Director of Cargo Development for the TLCPA. "We're also excited about the progress of construction at the new Ironville terminal which will expand our capacity for cargo storage and handling."
Jason Lowery, Director of Corporate Development for Midwest Terminals at the port added: "We have been fortunate to maintain existing customers and pick up a couple new accounts in 2013. That's a trend we hope to continue through the balance of the year and into 2014."
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor reported a 28 percent increase in August shipments versus 2012 and an eight-month total that is 21 percent ahead of last year's pace. The 2013 growth was driven by significant increases in shipments of fertilizer, semi-finished steel as well as steel-related raw materials and byproducts.
"We have had four consecutive months of increased shipments," said Rick Heimann, port director for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. "Our port companies handle a diverse mix of cargoes, but being located in the steel capital of North America certainly has a tremendous impact on volumes coming through this port on ocean, lake and barge routes."
Construction is currently underway at the Port of Indiana on significant infrastructure improvements, including a mainline rail reconstruction project that is scheduled to be finished by the end of September.
"Over the past three years, we have upgraded the majority of the mainline rail track throughout the port," Heimann said. "Maintaining modern infrastructure and efficient multimodal transportation connections are very important to our port customers."
In addition to the uptick in general cargo traffic at the ports, U.S. grain was also a bright spot for the month.
"U.S. grain shipped through the Seaway has risen 37 percent through the end of August over the same period last season, suggesting American wheat, corn and soybean exports through the St. Lawrence Seaway System may enjoy an excellent year if weather conditions cooperate through harvest in October," said Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development. "Liquid bulk cargoes are also faring well having topped 2 million tons, 6 percent above their level at 2012's mid-season juncture."
Additionally, as reported by the St. Lawrence Seaway, year-to-date cargo shipments for the period March 22 to August 31 were 19.3 million metric tons. Overall, cargo categories were mixed. While steel production throughout the Great Lakes states is beginning to make a comeback, iron ore and coal shipments remained down in August by 15 and 2 percent respectively.
Within the dry bulk category, scrap metal was up 3 percent as well as pig iron at 6 percent.