Continued demand for iron ore, coal, and general cargo for the industrial and manufacturing sectors lifted the tonnage numbers along the Great Lakes-Seaway System to the positive column. For the period March 22 to November 30, year-to-date total cargo shipments were 34.6 million metric tons, a rise of 2.67 percent over the same period in 2011. The St. Lawrence Seaway reported an 11 percent increase for total cargo shipments during the month of November – 5.1 million metric tons – compared to November 2011.
“The nearly 3 percent rise in overall tonnage handled through the Seaway in 2012 is due in part to the proven formula of ‘steel in, grain out’ as steel imports rose 12 percent in November as compared to the same month last year, and combined Canadian-U.S. grain export figure totals continue to improve, though still behind (-4%) last year’s pace,” said Rebecca Spruill, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Director of Trade Development. “Shippers and port-terminal personnel are working hard to move wheat, soybeans and corn exports to lower Laurentian ports or foreign destinations before the Seaway locks close out the waterway’s final days.”
Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego said: “The first seven months of the fiscal year surpassed the highest revenues in the port authority’s history. We are continuing to push hard to the end of the shipping season, with aluminum as our leading cargo shipment.”
Daniels also noted: “Even with the drought in northern Pennsylvania, harvest yields per acre of soy beans and corn were higher than anticipated. This forced the port authority to take on an additional 179,000 sq. ft. storage space outside the port complex to accommodate the overflow of agricultural shipments.”
At the other end of the Great Lakes-Seaway System, the Port of Duluth-Superior has handled nearly 33 million tons of cargo to date, with iron ore the strongest payload throughout this shipping season. “In addition to U.S.-flag vessels serving domestic markets, the Canadian lakers have played an important role in moving commodities like iron ore and low-sulphur coal to Canadian ports for transshipment to global markets,” said Adolph Ojard, executive director, Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
“The Port of Cleveland experienced a third straight year of growth in its international cargo trade, mainly due to increased demand for steel in the region,” said David Gutheil, vice president of maritime and logistics. “In addition, two major shipments of steel billets were handled through the Port in 2012 – the first on a charter vessel from Brazil, and the second as a shipment for export to Mexico that originated at a steel company in northeast Ohio. The Port also activated our first Foreign Trade Zone client since 2006, in partnership with NEOTEC, with whom we signed an agreement early in 2012 to administer FTZ #40 and assist the Port with marketing of the FTZ.”
Brisk end of season grain shipments boosted grain tonnage through November to over one million tons at the Port of Toledo. This represents a 42 percent increase over the same period in 2011. In addition, general cargo numbers are up at the Port of Toledo surpassing the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. This increase of 38 percent over 2011 is mainly due to an increase in aluminum tonnage from Canada. The shipments are received via barge at Midwest Terminals and then traded on the London Metal Exchange or New York Mercantile Exchange and eventually shipped to manufacturers in the automotive industry.
“While overall tonnage is down, the 2012 season had its share of bright spots,” said Joe Cappel, Director of Cargo Development at the Port. “We continue to improve upon our vessel discharge rates with the use of our new material handling equipment and at the same time we are constructing new facilities that will enable our Port to accommodate additional tonnage in support of a wide range of growing industries in the region.”
U.S. grain shipments through the Seaway posted a 48 percent increase for the month of November. Year-to-date U.S. grain shipments were down 20 percent to 1.2 million metric tons. Year-to-date total grain shipments were down four percent to 7.3 million metric tons.
Year-to-date figures for iron ore were up 15 percent to 9.4 million metric tons. Year-to-date coal shipments rose to 4.2 million metric tons – a 25 percent hike over 2011. Salt shipments, a brisk commodity throughout the year, were 2.3 million metric tons year-to-date, up 1.2 percent. The General Cargo category which includes iron, steel, aluminum ingots, as well as heavy machinery and wind turbine equipment, reached 1.9 million metric tons, up 12 percent year-to-date.