Great Lakes iron ore, limestone trade down in April

Great Lakes iron ore and limestone shipments were both down in April from 2017.

Iron ore. Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway totaled 5.5 million tons in April, a decrease of 6.3 percent compared to a year ago. However, shipments topped the month’s five-year average by nearly 15 percent.

Shipments from U.S. Great Lakes ports totaled 5.1 million tons in April, a decrease of 4.5 percent. This is the first April since perhaps the 1850s that no iron ore was shipped from Escanaba, Michigan. The mine that shipped through Escanaba has been permanently idled. This means all the iron ore shipped to U.S. steel mills in April had to transit the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The MacArthur Lock is undergoing maintenance and has yet to open for this season.

Loadings at Canadian terminals in the Seaway totaled 380,000 tons in April, a decrease of 18.2 percent.

Year-to-date, the iron ore trade stands at 9.4 million tons, a decrease of 13.7 percent compared to the same point in 2017. Year-over-year, loadings at U.S. ports total 8.2 million tons, a decrease of 15.6 percent. Shipments from Canadian ports in the St. Lawrence Seaway have increased slightly to 1.2 million tons.

Limestone. The coldest April since 1997 put a chill on the Great Lakes limestone trade. Shipments totaled just 1,254,226 net tons, a decrease of 23 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings trailed the month’s five-year average by even more—33.3 percent.

Loadings at U.S. ports totaled 1.1 million tons, a decrease of 19 percent. Shipments from Canadian quarries totaled 177,000 tons, a decrease of nearly 41 percent.

Year-to-date, the limestone trade stands at 1.5 million tons, a decrease of 12.8 percent. Shipments from U.S. ports total 1.3 million tons, a decrease of 7 percent. The year-to-date total for U.S. ports includes 17,664 tons loaded in February and 218,452 tons shipped in March.

No limestone moved from Canadian quarries during the first quarter, so the April total is also the year-to-date total for Canadian ports.

Maritime Editorial