Seaway shipping remains on pace to top 2016

Overall shipping tonnage on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway is more than 13 percent ahead of 2016, according to the latest statistics through August 31. Iron ore, salt and general cargo shipments through the Great Lakes and Seaway have been strong throughout the 2017 shipping season and continue to lead the way.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation reports that cargo shipments from the start of the shipping season on March 20 through August totaled 19.9 million metric tons—up about 2.3 million metric tons over the same period last year.

“U.S. iron ore exports to Asia continue at a brisk pace along with shipments of steel, aluminum and oversized equipment and machinery to support manufacturing in U.S. cities across the Great Lakes region. Ports are making infrastructure investments and marketing efforts that are paying off with a more diversified cargo mix,” said Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Given current North American economic conditions, we’re optimistic that Seaway cargo levels will top last year’s performance.”

Iron ore shipments via the Seaway in 2017 have reached nearly 4.7 million metric tons so far this year, up nearly 54 percent from a year ago, as ships carry iron ore pellets from the Port of Duluth-Superior to Canada and onwards for export.

Meanwhile, the latest tonnage numbers show general cargo (specialty steel, aluminum, project cargo and containers) is more than 40 percent ahead of last year. One area of strength has been aluminum ingots, which are transported by McKeil Marine barges from Quebec to Oswego, New York (for automotive manufacturing), Detroit and Toledo, Ohio.

“With continued strong demand in the U.S., our shipments of aluminum to multiple ports in the Great Lakes have increased, contributing to the surge in general cargo shipments on the Seaway for the year-to-date,” said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO, McKeil Marine.

“Our custom solutions for project shipments and services have also been in high demand—from dead-ship tows to construction support.”

Within the dry bulk category, salt shipments via the Seaway have also been a star performer with an increase of 46.7 percent over the 2016 level.

For the Port of Toledo, shipping statistics continue to be good. In August, tonnage was up nearly 43 percent over the same period last year. Iron ore shipments have reached nearly 2.3 million short tons, as a result of AK Steel’s increased demand for their facility in Middletown, Ohio. Coal has reached 1.27 million short tons and dry bulk has hit nearly 1 million short tons.

“This is shaping up to be a very good year for the Port of Toledo,” said Joe Cappel, Vice President of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Our numbers are up in nearly all cargo categories with the exception of grain and that could change based on the fall harvest. All of the marine terminals and the Toledo Shipyard have been busy this summer and I believe the positive momentum will continue throughout the remainder of the shipping season.”

Maritime Editorial