Seaway cargo up 20 percent as waterway supports economic growth

Total cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway are up 20 percent this year as the marine highway supports business growth from key sectors of the North American economy.

According to The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, total cargo tonnage from March 20 to June 30 reached 12 million metric tons—2 million metric tons more compared to the same period in 2016.

“Seaway cargo shipments are a reflection of North American and global economic conditions in industries such as auto manufacturing, construction, mining and agriculture. Cargo volumes have improved in almost every category from iron ore and grain to road salt and construction materials compared to last spring,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “Great Lakes/Seaway shipping is supporting domestic economic growth and international trade from provinces across Canada by providing reliable, efficient and sustainable transportation.”

Canadian grain totaled 2.4 million metric tons, up 14 percent, with vessels shipping a large carryover of prairie and Ontario grain products from the fall harvest to overseas markets.

G3 Canada is a growing grain company that has a significant investment in grain handling facilities located at various points along the St. Lawrence Seaway. In June, G3 Canada Limited’s staff and customers, as well as other dignitaries gathered to celebrate the grand opening of G3’s C$50 million new lake terminal at the Port of Hamilton. The terminal is the centerpiece of G3’s entrance into the southern Ontario grain handling market. G3 Hamilton features technology that maximizes facility load and unload speed.

“Fundamental to the business case for the new terminal is access to the St. Lawrence Seaway, as the intent is to load both Great Lakes lakers and inbound salties to ship volume through this facility. The St. Lawrence Seaway is strategic to G3’s western Canadian infrastructure, as well as our facilities at Hamilton, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières,” said Karl Gerrand, CEO, G3 Canada Limited. “The Seaway is critical to the expansion of our business of exporting Canadian grain to world markets. G3 Hamilton loaded its first vessel in the month of June and is gearing up for a strong fall program when farmers begin to harvest this year’s crops.”

Year-to-date, iron ore shipments totaled 2.8 million metric tons, up 65 percent over 2016 levels. Canadian domestic carriers are loading U.S. iron ore pellets at Minnesota ports/docks to ship via the Seaway to the Port of Quebec, where it is then transferred to larger ocean-going vessels for onward transport to Japan and China.

Dry bulk cargo (including materials like stone, cement, gypsum, road salt and potash) shipments from March 20 to June 30 totaled 3.4 million metric tons, up 17 percent over the same period last year. General cargo shipments, including specialized steel and aluminum ingots destined to be used in the automotive and construction industries, also topped 1.1 million metric tons, up 29 percent.

Trade through the Port of Thunder Bay to and from Western Canada has been strong through the month of June. Year-to-date, 3.15 million metric tons of cargo have moved across Thunder Bay docks, which is 16 percent higher than the 10-year average. Outbound shipments of the port’s mainstay cargo, prairie grain, are well ahead of normal (2.5 million metric tons vs. 2.2 million metric tons).

Tim Heney, CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority, added: “Potash has also been one of the highlights of the 2017 shipping season so far in Thunder Bay. As of June 30, potash shipment volumes are double what they usually are, and almost three times as much as last year at this time (252,000 metric tons vs. 90,000 metric tons). There has been a large increase in direct-export shipments to Brazil and Europe via ocean-going vessels. Thunder Bay is the only potash load point on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system.”

The port’s Keefer Terminal also had a very successful month. The terminal handled a variety of dimensional cargoes including electrical transformers, windmill components, conveyor belt coils, modular buildings and a large shipment of steel beams and rail. With the exception of the modular buildings, which were outbound, these cargoes were offloaded to Keefer’s vast laydown area before being transferred to truck and rail for furtherance to Western Canada.

Maritime Editorial