North American commodities for the industrial and manufacturing sectors drove an uptick in tonnage numbers along the Great Lakes-Seaway System.
The St. Lawrence Seaway reported a 9.8 percent increase for total cargo shipments in October – 4.4 million metric tons – compared to October 2011. For the period March 22 to October 31, year-to-date total cargo shipments were 29.5 million metric tons, a rise of 1.4 percent over the same period in 2011.
“In the General Cargoes category, shipments through the Seaway of iron, steel slabs, project cargoes and domestic general cargoes jumped nine percent over last year’s tally,” said Rebecca Spruill, director, trade development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “This is excellent news for ports handling these higher value commodities.”
Spruill continued: “The Port of Oswego reported its seventh consecutive month exceeding 10,000 tons of aluminum shipped from Quebec, and the Port of Muskegon welcomed two additional ships laden with wind turbine blades destined for a wind farm project in Michigan.”
In the closing months of the 2012 shipping season, tonnage figures for traditional cargoes remain on the positive side for U.S. ports.
“Though lake levels are lower, economic activity has held steady this season in terms of vessel traffic at the Port of Duluth-Superior. Early indications are that the port is on track to wind up this shipping season with tonnage totals comparable to the 37 million short tons moved last year,” said Adele Yorde, Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokesperson.
“There’s been a strong demand for iron ore and limestone as world economies supported increased prices, plus there’s been a great deal more movement of general cargo such as components for wind energy projects,” she added.
In October, the Port of Toledo experienced a resurgence of overseas traffic as grain terminals launched into their Fall export programs. “ADM and The Andersons loaded a combination of ocean vessels and lakers heading to trans-load ports resulting in a 20 percent increase in grain tonnage over the same period in 2011,” said Joe Cappel, director of cargo development at the port.
He added: “At the general cargo dock operated by Midwest Terminals, consistent short sea shipments of aluminum sows arriving on McKeil barges from Quebec have resulted in an overall increase in general cargo by 22 percent. Much of the aluminum is stored in Toledo’s foreign trade zone and traded on the London Metal Exchange.”
“While 2012 continues to present a mixture of challenges and opportunities, we are encouraged by October’s results,” stated Cappel. “We are continuing to improve and modernize our facilities and are excited that the new Ironville Terminal will be coming online in 2013 to allow for additional cargo handling and industrial development projects.”
Iron ore shipments through the Seaway were up six percent in October to 819,000 metric tons versus the same time last year. Year-to-date figures for iron ore were up 20 percent to 8.5 million metric tons. Coal shipments for power generation and steel production totaled 378,000 metric tons in October – a decrease of 13 percent from October 2011. Year-to-date coal shipments rose to 3.7 million metric tons – a 25 percent hike over 2011.
U.S. grain, which has been consistently down this season, posted a 46 percent increase for the month of October. Year-to-date U.S. grain shipments were down 31 percent to 865,000 metric tons. Year-to-date total grain shipments were down five percent to 5.8 million metric tons.