U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (lakers) moved 7.3 million tons of cargo in April, an increase of 9.7 percent compared to a year ago and 7 percent above the month’s five-year average, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA).
Iron ore cargos for the steel industry totaled
4.4 million tons, an increase of 30 percent compared to a year, LCA said. However, coal shipments to power plants and steel mills slipped to 1.2 million tons, a decrease of 11 percent. Limestone loads for construction projects and steel production totaled 1.4 million tons, a decrease of two or three boatloads.
All five Great Lakes are currently above their long-term average for water waters, but full loads remain elusive, according to LCA. The largest coal cargo shipped in April totaled 69,378 tons, but Class X lakers (the U.S.-flag 1,000-footers) have carried as much as 70,903 tons of coal in a single voyage.
Year-to-date U.S.-flag carriage stands at 11.4 million tons, an increase of 9 percent compared to the same point in 2015. Iron ore cargos are up 24 percent, but coal cargos have dipped 28 percent. Limestone shipments are virtually tied with a year ago.