October was second busiest month on St. Lawrence Seaway

St. Lawrence Seaway shipping had its second busiest month of the season in October, fueled by increases in shipments of grain, salt and construction materials.

Overall cargo shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway (from March 29 to October 31) totaled 30.5 million metric tons, up four percent over the same period in 2017.

The increase in construction materials, like cement and clinker shipments which are up 20 percent, can partly be attributed to cement moving into terminals in Ste. Catherine, Quebec and the Port of Oshawa.

Year-to-date, Canadian grain shipments reached 6.4 million metric tons, up 10 percent compared to the same time period in 2017. An Australian drought is driving up global grain prices and leading to more demand for Canadian products.

“We’re anticipating that grain shipments will continue to dominate in the final two months of the season,” says Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “It’s also promising to see the demand for construction materials this time of year and salt recovering nicely.”

The Port of Thunder Bay grain terminals are well stocked and railcar loadings at the port are holding steady.

“Adding to another large crop season, November and December bodes well to end on a strong note and we are expecting to start next year on a similar pace,” says Tim Heney, President and CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. In October, the port’s grain shipments totaled 737,000 metric tons, exceeding October 2017’s grain totals.

Salt shipments have significantly rebounded from earlier in the year due partly to international imports from Egypt and Morocco. North American salt was in short supply following a 12-week strike at the Goderich Mine in Canada that ended in July.

“Salt companies are filling any gaps in their quotas and contracts by importing salt on ocean-going vessels,” says Bowles. “It’s a good example of how the navigation system can quickly provide a reliable, competitive supply chain even when unforeseen circumstances arise.”

“At the Port of Johnstown, salt continues to trickle in as major salt companies work to get the salt into position for the winter,” says Robert Dalley, General Manager of the Port of Johnstown.

The Port of Johnstown had a successful October with large shipments of soybeans and grain. The port set a record for the most soybeans received in a single month at 116,000 metric tons. This brings their total for the 2018 harvest to just under 150,000 metric tons with expectations that shipments will surpass the 2016 season record of 200,000 metric tons of soybeans.

“Even with these impressive numbers we still see a backlog of soybeans in the system waiting for lakers and salties to move them out,” says Dalley. “We expect five vessels to arrive this month that will help with the storage capacity situation in Eastern Ontario.”

At the Port of Windsor, petroleum, salt and grain shipments are tracking ahead of 2017’s strong volumes. Grain shipments from March to October 31 were up 12 percent compared to the same period in 2017.

“It’s a strong year for the port as we facilitate domestic, cross-border and international trade,” said Steve Salmons, President and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority. “Our international tonnage is up 73 percent over last year. Trade tariffs in the U.S. have led to steel imports from Europe and Russia coming into the port and a flurry of Canadian grain exports heading out to European markets. However, we have also seen a huge jump in the amount of aggregate being carried by U.S. ships from American quarries into Windsor; a 483 percent increase from 2017.”

It has also been a busy season at the Port of Hamilton as the fall harvest makes its way from Ontario farms to grain terminals at the port.

“Grain volumes so far this year have reached 1.9 million metric tons; 96 percent higher than the same period in 2017. The three grain terminals located at the Port of Hamilton, operated by G3 Canada Ltd., Richardson International and Parrish & Heimbecker, offer Ontario producers some of the industry’s fastest truck receiving times to deliver their product—part of an efficient Canadian supply chain that is globally competitive,” says Ian Hamilton, President & CEO, Hamilton Port Authority.

Maritime Editorial