Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor sets record for shipments

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The following is the text of a news release from the Ports of Indiana:

(PORTAGE, Ind.) — The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled more shipments in 2014 than any year since the port opened in 1970. Total tonnage was up 30 percent over 2013 driven by strong shipments of steel, grain and salt.

"It was a terrific year thanks to our port companies, steelmakers and businesses that use our port," said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. "Federal Marine Terminals, the port's terminal operator, and its labor force did a tremendous job handling the significant cargo increases that arrived at the port by ship and barge. They extended their work hours and even worked weekends on a number of occasions to meet customer expectations."

The port also had a 35 percent increase in ocean vessels over 2013 and nearly a 25 percent increase in river barges moving through the Illinois/Mississippi river system.

"Steel going into the manufacturing sector was a key driver for the increase in port shipments," said Port Director Rick Heimann. "In 2013, the port handled its highest steel volume since 2006 and 2014's steel tonnage more than doubled the previous year's total. The port also handled over 500 barges in 2014 for the first time in several years."

River barges provide a vital link for the port to over 20 states, 12,000 miles of rivers and ocean vessels in the Gulf of Mexico that provide year-round access to world markets when the St. Lawrence Seaway is closed for the winter. This port's strategic location at the intersection of two of the world's busiest waterways and all of the nation's Class I rail lines provides significant competitive advantages for multimodal companies who locate at the port.

The port continues to serve as a preferred inland hub for large dimensional specialty cargoes, including beer tanks, wind turbines and fuel processing equipment. In 2014, 29 beer fermentation tanks, each with over 20,000-gallon capacity, were shipped from Germany through the port to Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Chicago — one of the largest craft breweries in the U.S.

The port also received an 885,000-pound project cargo shipment via barge that contained a fuel processing unit being transported from Oklahoma to Ohio. The entire unit was offloaded at the port's specialized Ro-Ro dock, which is used to roll-on and roll-off specially-designed trailers that are too large or cumbersome for cranes.

Two port companies announced major expansions in 2014 as NLMK invested $8 million to expand its steel mini-mill operation and Carmeuse Lime & Stone pumped $11 million into its limestone processing facility.

Maritime operations at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor generate $4.3 billion per year in economic activity and support 33,000 total jobs.

About the Ports of Indiana

The Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority operating three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. Established in 1961, the Ports of Indiana is a self-funded enterprise dedicated to growing Indiana's economy by developing and maintaining a world-class port system. For more information, visit www.portsofindiana.com.

By Professional Mariner Staff