Great Lakes coal shipments rise, but still down for year

The following is the text of a news release from the Lake Carriers' Association:

(CLEVELAND) — Coal shipments on the Great Lakes topped 3 million tons in October, an increase of 9 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments also outpaced the month’s long-term average by 75,000 tons.

Shipments from Lake Superior ports totaled 1.7 million tons, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to a year ago, and a slight increase over the month’s long-term average.

Loadings on Lake Michigan totaled 267,000 tons, a decrease of 35 percent compared to a year ago, and 24.2 percent below the month’s long-term average.

For the second month in a row, loadings at Lake Erie ports topped 1 million tons, an increase of nearly 50 percent compared to a year ago, and 12.8 percent better than the month’s long-term average.

Despite the increases of the past two months, the trade’s end-of-October total — 18.8 million tons — still represents a decrease of 5.1 percent compared to a year ago. As was the case with other commodities, coal was severely impacted by the brutal winter of 2013-2014. At the end of April, shipments were down by nearly 50 percent. Ice is already forming on the lakes, so industry will need the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards to keep the shipping lanes open once ice formations become formidable.

The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 56 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year. Those cargos support more than 103,000 jobs with an average wage of $47,000. More information is available at

By Professional Mariner Staff