Lakes limestone trade tops 4 million tons in June

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

(CLEVELAND) — Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 4,042,766 tons in June, an increase of 6 percent compared to May and 9-plus percent compared to a year ago. The June stone float is also the highest monthly total since July of 2014.

U.S. quarries shipped 3.3 million tons in June, an increase of 6.8 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from Canadian quarries totaled 765,000 tons, an increase of 21 percent.

Year-to-date the lakes limestone trade stands at 9.9 million tons, an increase of 24.4 percent compared to a year ago. Market conditions alone do not explain the increase. The ice on the lakes was so formidable in March, April and early May of 2014 that the limestone trade got off to one of its latest and slowest starts in recent memory. Other cargoes were similarly impacted. 

Congress is aware of the delays lakes shipping has suffered these past two winters. As a result, the Senate’s FY16 Homeland Security Appropriations bill directs the Coast Guard to conduct a Great Lakes mission analysis study within 180 days of the bill’s enactment to determine the assets necessary to effectively and reliably keep commerce moving during the ice season, including consideration of a second Mackinaw-class icebreaker. The House’s Coast Guard Authorization Act authorizes the commandant to design and build a new icebreaker for its lakes fleet.

An icebreaker with capabilities that match Mackinaw is estimated to cost $151 million. Cargoes canceled or delayed by ice these past two winters have cost the region an estimated 5,800 jobs and $1.1 billion in economic activity.

By Professional Mariner Staff