St. Lawrence Seaway enters peak season with shipments up 4 percent

The upward trend of the 2018 St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season continues, driven by Canadian grain exports and improving salt shipments.

Overall tonnage for the period March 29 to September 30 totaled 25.7 million metric tons, up 4.1 percent when compared to 2017. Canadian grain shipments topped 5.1 million metric tons for the period, up 11.6 percent. Salt shipments totaled 1.9 million metric tons, significantly improving after the strike at the Compass Minerals Goderich mine ended in July.

“Exports of grain from last year’s harvest continue to drive increases in Seaway tonnage, and we expect to have a strong finish to the year as the new harvest is added to the mix,” says Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “Furthermore, cities across the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence region are replenishing their stocks of road salt after last year’s lengthy winter, adding to the upswell in cargo volumes.”

The Port of Hamilton is on pace for a successful shipping season. Total cargo through September is up 18 percent compared to the same time period last year. Hamilton is seeing strong numbers in shipments of grain (up 109 percent), petroleum products (up 40 percent), finished steel (up 38 percent), metallurgical coal (up 25 percent) and fertilizer (up 11 percent).

The Port of Hamilton has also seen a dramatic increase in the volume of cargo going overseas, up 81 percent over a year ago.

“We think this is a very good indication that when there is a need to diversify, Canada is ready to leverage its trade-enabling infrastructure to reach new markets,” says Ian Hamilton, President/CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority.

The Port of Johnstown welcomed salt shipments from several ocean-going vessels in September. The port had three international vessels deliver 65,000 metric tons of salt and are expecting two more as the salt companies try to reach their quotas. Road salt from the port is distributed to cities and towns throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.

The Port of Johnstown recently completed a 6.5-acre expansion project allowing more laydown area for cargo. The project also improves the port’s ability to load railcars with an additional 500 feet of rail siding now accessible.

The Port of Thunder Bay is reporting average volumes of cargo this season, including just over 5.4 million metric tons of cargo this season, compared to the five-year-average of 5.3 million metric tons.

“Year-to-date grain volumes hovered at the five-year-average level at the end of September, while coal and potash volumes remained above average,” says Tim Heney, President and CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. “Quorum Corp., Canada’s grain monitoring agency, recently reported that grain car unloads are below average at both of Western Canada’s top grain ports, Thunder Bay and Vancouver. Despite the dip in shipping during September, there is optimism that the port will end the season with similar volumes to last year.”

Maritime Editorial