LCA cites icebreaker shortage for March ore plunge

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

(CLEVELAND) — Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 975,000 tons in March, a decrease of 39 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings also trailed the month’s five-year average by more than 26 percent.

The decrease reflects the lack of adequate icebreaking resources on the Great Lakes. The ice fields in Whitefish Bay at the eastern end of Lake Superior and in the Straits of Mackinac were very thick, but two of the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreakers have been in need of extensive repairs this spring and the government shutdown did delay some work.

Year to date, the iron ore trade stands at 3.4 million tons, an increase of 9.5 percent. Ice conditions in January were less challenging.

The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 13 American companies that operate 46 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 90 million tons of cargo per year.

By Professional Mariner Staff