The Great Lakes iron ore trade continued to strengthen in April in response to growing demand for steel. Shipments from U.S. and Canadian Lakes and Seaway ports totaled 5.4 million net tons, an increase of 146% to a year ago. April loadings also bettered the month’s 5-year average by nearly 5%.
Rebounding steel production is driving the Lakes iron ore trade. As April began, the steel industry was using 70.8% of its capacity, and by month’s end, had worked up to 72.5% of capacity. In April 2009, the steel industry had but 41% of its capacity on line.
Another positive indicator is that the 1.6 million tons of iron ore shipped from Two Harbors, Minnesota, in April is one of the highest monthly totals for a Great Lakes iron ore dock in the past several years.
Year-to-date the iron ore trade stands at 9.5 million tons, an increase of nearly 170 percent compared to a year ago. However, shipments are still slightly behind the 5-year average for the January-April timeframe.