U.S.-flag cargo movement on Lakes down 13 percent in March

U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters moved 1.8 million tons of cargo in March, a decrease of 13 percent compared to a year ago. However, the March float topped the month’s five-year average by more than 15 percent.

Iron ore cargoes for steel production dominated the month. Cargoes totaled 1.4 million tons, a decrease of 17 percent. That no iron ore moved from Escanaba, Michigan is a factor in the decrease. That port used to resume iron ore shipments in early to mid-March. However, the mine that shipped through Escanaba has been indefinitely idled. Therefore, the iron ore trade to domestic steelmakers could not resume until the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan reopened March 25.

March coal shipments dipped by more than half, but limestone cargoes nearly quadrupled to 185,000 tons.

Year-to-date, U.S.-flag carriage stands at 3.3 million tons, a decrease of 22 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017. (Only one cargo—limestone—moved in February.) Iron ore cargoes are down by 20 percent. Coal trails a year ago by 70 percent, but limestone has more than quadrupled.

Maritime Editorial