Great Lakes iron ore trade posts busiest year since 2012

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

(CLEVELAND) — Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 60.3 million tons in 2017, an increase of 10.9 percent over 2016 and the highest total recorded since 2012. The 2017 ore float also bettered the trade’s five-year average by 4.6 percent.

Loadings at U.S. ports totaled 55.75 million tons, an increase of 13.4 percent, this despite the fact that Escanaba, Mich., on the north shore of Lake Michigan shipped its final cargo on April 18. The iron ore mine that shipped through Escanaba, the Empire Mine in Palmer, Mich., closed because it had exhausted its mineable reserves. Following that, all domestically mined iron ore had to transit the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., in order to feed blast furnaces in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The Lake Superior ore ports that ship through the Soo Locks saw their loadings increase by 9.9 million tons, or 23.6 percent.

Shipments from Canadian ports in the St. Lawrence Seaway totaled 4.6 million tons, a decrease of 12.4 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 13 American companies that operate 45 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 sand, grain and other dry-bulk cargoes. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 100 million tons of cargo per year. More information is available at

By Professional Mariner Staff