Construction cargoes drive Great Lakes traffic in August

(OTTAWA, Ontario) — Overall shipping activity on the U.S. Great Lakes in 2023 continues in lockstep with the previous year, with approximately 19.9 million tonnes of total cargo traffic traveling the seaway system for the year to date. In 2022, the total traffic to the end of August was 19.8 million tonnes.

While there has been year-to-year variation in the traffic of specific commodities, key construction commodities showed year-over-year gains in August. Almost 1.2 million tonnes of cement and clinkers have traveled the system this year (a year over year increase of 205,000 tonnes, or 20.6 percent). Stone also saw increased annual traffic, with 158,000 tonnes transiting the system (a year-over-year increase of 73,000 tonnes, or 86.4 percent.)

“New construction, modernization and infrastructure activity remained strong throughout the first part of the year in U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes markets,” said Kelly Curtis, senior vice president of cement sales and logistics for VCNA/St. Mary’s Cement. “The flexibility of our maritime operations played an essential role in our ability to respond and adapt to changing dynamics in our operating environment.”

The movement of key commodities along the U.S. Great Lakes is not only vital to supply chain strength, but also economic strength – a point made clear in a document recently released by a member port of the Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC).

In August, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority announced the results of an economic impact study documenting the many contributions made by the Port of Toledo and maritime shipping to the city of Toledo, Lucas County, the state of Ohio and the Great Lakes region. The study reported that in 2022, the Port of Toledo supported 7,971 jobs and generated $906.2 million in economic activity. Maritime shipping in Toledo produced $183.2 million in federal, state and local tax revenue and supplied $708.6 million in personal income and local consumption expenditures.

The bulk carrier Algoma Transport at the CSX coal dock in Toledo, Ohio, on Aug. 9. Chamber of Marine Commerce photo

“The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority had an excellent year in 2022,” said Thomas Winston, president and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “The results from this year’s study indicate an increase of 888 new jobs and more than $237 million in additional economic activity compared to data reported in the 2018 study. This increase can be mostly contributed to the addition of the Cleveland-Cliffs Toledo Direct Reduction Plant at Ironville in East Toledo.”

Brisk maritime shipping activity during August brought port tonnage within 7 percent of the 2022 year-to-date total. With over 6.5 million short tons handled year to date, the Port of Toledo is well ahead of the 2020 and 2021 shipping seasons.

In addition to announcing economic contributions, CMC member ports are also showing their commitment to the environment. On Sept. 7, the Port of Cleveland refreshed its strategic vision, most notably to include a commitment to a climate action plan, with the goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This goal is in alignment with the Biden administration’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, and the goals of the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. The port’s goal was undertaken with the intention of becoming one of the most environmentally responsible ports in the nation.

“While we acknowledge that reaching this ambitious goal demands close collaboration with our industry, community and government partners, the port has a proven track record of rising to challenges,” said William Friedman, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. “We wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity to lead the way toward a cleaner, greener future for our region, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability and the well-being of our community.”

The new commitment by the port builds on an already impressive list of environmental initiatives undertaken to date. They include sediment processing/management, stormwater filtration, and planning for electrification of port equipment, docks and terminals. Other goals in the organization’s new 2024-2028 strategic plan included creating new opportunities for business expansion and job growth; elevating the port’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; and developing civic assets by solving community challenges.

“Ports along the Great Lakes have become true leaders and standard-bearers when it comes to driving the economy while protecting and preserving the environment,” said Bruce Burrows, president and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “They work closely with stakeholders in their regions, are responsive to the needs of businesses and consumers, keep supply chains moving in all circumstances, and do so while holding themselves to high standards with respect to sustainable practices. In doing so, they continue to build marine shipping’s reputation as the reliable, resilient, and green mode for shipping.”

– Chamber of Marine Commerce

By Professional Mariner Staff