U.S. grain, construction materials boost Great Lakes/Seaway shipping in June

United States grain exports via the St. Lawrence Seaway are up 32.1 percent this season compared to 2017. Construction materials were also heavily influential in the latest results with a nearly 38 percent increase in asphalt from the same time last year, as well as increases in cement and stone.

“Summer is the season for construction projects and ships have been delivering materials for major building projects across the region,” says Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “U.S. grain exports are also up this season and illustrate the importance of marine transportation to so many of America’s economic sectors. This was underlined by a new study released last week showing Great Lakes/St. Lawrence shipping supports 147,500 jobs and $25.6 billion in economic activity in United States.”

Overall cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway between March 29 and June 30 totaled 12.1 million metric tons, down by 2 percent compared to the same period in 2017. The slight decrease is due to the later and slower start of the season and a decline in salt shipments.

Year-to-date U.S. grain shipments via the Seaway (between March 29 and June 30) totaled 681,000 metric tons, up 32.1 percent compared to the same period in 2017. Liquid bulk shipments, which include petroleum and asphalt products among others, totaled 1.8 million metric tons—up 28 percent. Stone shipments were up 32 percent and cement shipments were up 24 percent.

Highlights at U.S. and Canadian ports include the following:

  • Foreign and domestic imports and exports of petroleum products continue to grow at the Port of Green Bay.
  • The Port of Hamilton is showing a 21 percent year-over-year increase in cargo tonnage. Leading the way for the port is agricultural cargo. Steel-related commodities, including raw materials for steelmaking represent another strong area for the Port of Hamilton so far this season. Shipments in this category are trending 14 percent higher than the same period in 2017. Imports of liquid bulk products like asphalt and gasoline are up 49 percent.
  • At the Port of Thunder Bay, shipments of traditional bulk cargoes of grain, coal and potash that make up the majority of the port’s cargo, were on par with five-year averages for the month.
  • The Port of Toledo’s grain terminals are having a busy spring and early summer shipping corn, soybeans, oats and distiller’s dry grains. Overall June 2018 numbers were nearly identical to June 2017; however, grains made a big jump in June, up 85.5 percent. Tonnage to date has exceeded 3.5 million short tons with sharp increases in grain and coal leading the way.
  • In the first half of the year, the Windsor Port Authority reports approximately 225,000 metric tons of construction aggregates have been received for the new plaza construction for the Gordie Howe Bridge project. The port also reported a 20.9 percent increase in petroleum over the last year.

Maritime Editorial