Year-to-Date Seaway Shipments ‘steady as she goes’

press release
Thursday, October 11, 2012

U.S. ports post positive numbers.


For the period March 22 to September 30, year-to-date total cargo shipments were 25.1 million metric tons, virtually flat over the same period in 2011, as reported by the St. Lawrence Seaway. 


“Cargo tonnage on the Seaway System remained relatively steady for the month of September,” said Rebecca Spruill, Director, Trade Development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “These tonnage numbers reflect historical trading patterns for the month of September, with the noteworthy increase in shipments of windmill components. We anticipate the next couple of months to reflect slight increases in cargo tonnage for general cargo, U.S. and Canadian grain, iron ore, and coal.”

U.S. ports took advantage of diversification and expansion plans to bolster September shipments.


The Port of Cleveland launched its expanded on-dock rail system in September, providing improved ship-to-rail and rail-to-ship access. The new Cleveland Harbor Belt Railroad handled three generators – weighing a total of 240 tons – that came through the Seaway from Port of Brake in Germany, and were destined for a power plant in southern Ohio.


“The movement of this cargo demonstrates our ability to better serve Seaway users and underscores our intent to aggressively market the new rail capabilities we now have at the Port,” said David Gutheil, vice president for maritime and logistics. “We are optimistic about our cargo volumes for the rest of the year and we are looking to add more projects into our pipeline before the current season ends.”


The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has handled significant increases in the shipments of steel, coke, fertilizer, grain and minerals through the first nine months of 2012. Overall YTD shipments remained fairly steady, down slightly from a year ago but still higher than every other year since 2006.

“Through the first three quarters of 2012, we have seen a nearly 25 percent increase in steel shipments driven by increased demand in the manufacturing sector,” said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. “Having direct access to international shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway and the inland river system is a major competitive advantage for port companies. Three new steel-related businesses have already opened facilities at our port in 2012 and we expect to see additional increases in shipments as those operations come online.”

Though U.S. grain exports have been down along the Seaway for several months, early September saw a flurry of activity in the Port of Duluth-Superior, spurred by the arrival of four ocean-going ships within the space of little more than a week. The ships headed to the CHS terminal in Superior where they loaded a total of 71,100 metric tons of spring wheat, durum wheat and canola bound for Italy, Germany/Belgium and Mexico, respectively.
Iron ore shipments through the Seaway were down 17 percent in September to 1million metric tons versus the same time last year. Year-to-date figures for iron ore were up 22 percent to 7.7 million metric tons.  Coal shipments for power generation and steel production totaled 588,000 metric tons in September – an increase of 33 percent from September 2011. Year-to-date coal shipments rose to 3.3 million metric tons – a 31 percent hike over 2011.


Cement shipments had a 22 percent increase in September 2012 over last year as construction work continued throughout the Great Lakes states.  Year-to-date shipments posted a 22 percent hike to 1.2 million metric tons.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and wages, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial and local taxes. North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system. This vital trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.

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