Great Lakes limestone shipments plunged 32% in June

The following is the text of a press release issued by the Lake Carriers’ Association:
(CLEVELAND) — The Great Lakes limestone traded continued to slump in June. Loadings totaled 3 million net tons, a decrease of 32 percent compared to a year ago, and a drop of 34 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average. Quarries that can load nearly a million tons a month when demand for aggregate and fluxstone is strong saw their shipments plunge by 40 to 60 percent.
The one bright spot — a record cargo for a vessel — was, in the final analyis, a reminder of the dredging crisis that plagues Great Lakes shipping. On June 26, the U.S.-Flag self-unloading barge Great Lakes Trader took on 35,457 tons of limestone at Presque Isle, Michigan. That is the largest stone cargo the vessel has ever loaded at that dock. The vessel was able to load deeper because of rising water levels. However, if the Great Lakes navigation system was dredged to project dimensions, the Trader would have loaded nearly 37,000 tons of stone.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to remove 17 million cubic yards
of sediment from Great Lakes ports and waterways before the Trader and other U.S.-Flag lakers can carry full loads. Unfortunately, the Corps elected to all but ignore Great Lakes needs when Congress gave it $4.6 billion from the stimulus package. The Corps directed only 2 percent of its stimulus dollars to Great Lakes projects.
For the year, the Great Lakes limestone trade stands at 7.4 million tons, a decrease of 37 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments are 44 percent below the 5-year average for the for the first half.
By Professional Mariner Staff