Grain exports via Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway up 7.5 percent

Overall cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway between March 29 and July 31 totaled 16.5 million metric tons, bolstered by grain exports and Great Lakes construction activity.

“Canadian grain exports to Europe continue to climb due to a large carryover from 2017. With a strong 2018 harvest expected, this momentum should continue in the autumn,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

Year-to-date, grain shipments via the Seaway (including U.S. and Canadian grain) totaled 4.2 million metric tons, up 7.5 percent compared to the same period in 2017. Canadian grain shipments, which represent 3.3 million metric tons of the volume, were up 3 percent while U.S. grain was up nearly 32 percent.

Prairie grain elevators have been busy the past several weeks at the Port of Thunder Bay. For only the second time in 20 years, July grain volumes surpassed 800,000 metric tons. The surge brings the grain tally at the port in line with the previous season and 4 percent greater than the five-year average.

Tim Heney, President and CEO of Thunder Bay Port Authority, said: “We are optimistic for another strong fall season of grain movement in Thunder Bay. Carryover on the prairies is higher than normal for this time of year, particularly in Saskatchewan where the majority of Seaway grain comes from. Recent grain deliveries by CN and CP are trending well ahead of last year.”

At the Port of Hamilton, close to a million metric tons has been shipped this season, with almost 60 percent of that being overseas exports of Ontario-grown corn.

Year-to-date coal shipments are also an area of strength on the St. Lawrence Seaway, totaling 1.2 million metric tons, up 33 percent over the same period last year. Year-to-date liquid bulk shipments via the Seaway, which include petroleum and asphalt products among others, totaled 2.3 million metric tons—up 25 percent. Dry bulk shipments are down 9 percent, due to a decrease in salt shipments. But within the dry bulk category, stone shipments were up 27 percent and cement shipments were up 26 percent.

These trends were reflected at the Port of Hamilton. As of the end of July, steelmaking inputs coal and coke continue to trend about 40 percent higher at the port than the same period in 2017, while iron ore has been stable year over year. More than 187,000 metric tons of products such as gasoline and diesel has transited the port this season, 56 percent more than in the same period in 2017.

Overall, the port’s tonnage to the end of July exceeded 4.7 million metric tons, 20 percent higher than 2017.

Ian Hamilton, President and CEO at the Hamilton Port Authority, said: “The commodities transiting the port’s piers showcase the role of marine transportation in a number of key southern Ontario industries, such as steelmaking and other advanced manufacturing, agriculture, construction and petrochemicals.”

Maritime Editorial