Bumper grain crops, steel boost seaway shipping season


The following is the text of a news release from the Chamber of Marine Commerce:

(OTTAWA) — With just one month left of the season, St. Lawrence Seaway cargo shipments are expected to finish ahead of 2013 after a remarkable year of grain exports and steel imports.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway, total cargo shipments reached 34.6 million metric tons for the period from March 25 to Nov. 30 — up 5 percent over the same period last year. Seaway management expects the season will close ahead of last year by a similar margin.

Grain shipments (Canadian and U.S.) tallied 10.1 million metric tons, up 44 percent over 2013. The vast majority of that uplift has come from record Canadian crops, but U.S. grain to date is also up by 30 percent. Grain shipments through the Port of Toledo have been at their highest level in four years.

Renewed construction activity and automotive manufacturing lifted steel shipments by 80 percent to 2.2 million metric tons this season with ports including Detroit, Toledo, Milwaukee and Cleveland all benefiting from the increase.

Nearly 2 million metric tons of new business also helped to offset decreases in iron ore and coal shipments this year. Close to a fifth of that total has been salt imports heading to destinations such as Detroit, Toledo and Milwaukee. These have been supplementing a huge demand by cities, towns, businesses, schools and hospitals for road salt from domestic mines. Salt shipments are up by 47 percent to 3 million metric tons.


Stephen Brooks, president, Chamber of Marine Commerce: “After a year of big harvests and an uptick in North American economic activity, it is expected that total tonnage through the seaway will be ahead of 2013 when the season closes at the end of December. Ship operators, ports and the seaway have worked flat out to make this season a success after a delayed start due to weather and ice conditions.”

Pat Sutka, treasurer, Nicholson Terminal & Dock at the Port of Detroit: “Shipments of steel coils, wire and beams to Detroit have been up by about 10 percent this season. Six ships brought in over 34,000 net tons in November alone, much of which will be used in regional manufacturing of parts for the automobile industry."

Joe Cappel, director of cargo development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority: "It's been a great year for the Port of Toledo with total volumes up between 10 percent and 15 percent and we are expecting a strong push for the final month. Grain shipments have been at their highest level in four years with corn heading to Canada for ethanol production and soybeans being exported to world markets. We have four different terminals receiving salt right now from domestic and international suppliers to help states and municipalities keep the roads safe this winter. And steel imports from Europe and Canada continue to be strong as Toledo processors slit, pickle and prepare these products for manufacturers to use. Stone and cement for construction are also in high demand. It's all a good indication that the economy is rebounding in the Toledo region."

Dean Haen, director, Brown County Port & Resource Recovery Department: “We are on track to meet our goal of more than 2 million tons this season. In addition, we have added two new export cargoes, one being sand and the other aluminum components for ship building. Petroleum products including diesel, gasoline and ethanol are also being exported from Green Bay to Montreal and Quebec via the seaway at higher levels than previous years. Foreign exports of petroleum products were up 40 percent from October 2013 to October 2014."

By Professional Mariner Staff