Seaway tonnage up 10 percent before peak months

The following is the text of a news release from the Chamber of Marine Commerce:

(OTTAWA) — Shipments of iron ore continue to lead the way as the 2017 shipping season moves into the final months of the year. More than 6.6 million tons of iron ore has been shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway this year, nearly 44 percent more than in 2016.  

The increase in iron ore shipments is one of the main factors behind the near 10 percent increase in total cargo shipments when compared to the same period last year. Overall cargo shipments from the start of the shipping season on March 20 through Oct. 31 totaled 28.7 million metric tons – up 2.5 million metric tons over the same period last year.

“This year, cargo volumes have improved in everything from mined products like iron ore and salt to construction materials and general cargo,” said Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “The next couple of months are traditionally the busiest of the year with customers stockpiling raw materials for winter production. We’re optimistic 2017 will end on a positive note.”

Algoma Central Corp., which is the largest Canadian domestic ship operator in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, reported a nearly 20 percent increase in its domestic dry-bulk business revenues for the nine months ended Sept. 30, compared to 2016.

“We’ve seen strong volumes in many of our cargoes, but particularly iron ore pellet exports from Minnesota that our ships are carrying to the Port of Quebec for trans-shipment overseas," said Gregg Ruhl, chief operating officer for Algoma. "We expect those exports to continue in the fourth quarter. Our ships are fully booked for the rest of the 2017 shipping season.”

Iron ore also continues to be the driving force for shipping through the Port of Toledo. “With nearly 2.7 million tons of iron ore moving through the port so far this year, iron ore shipments are up more than 190 percent. Overall tonnage remains about 33 percent ahead of 2016,” said Joe Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Through October, the Port of Toledo has handled 416 vessels, 67 more than the same time period last year. 

St. Lawrence Seaway shipping totals are also up from last year for general cargo (up 34 percent over 2016), salt (up 22 percent over 2016) and dry bulk (up nearly 12 percent), with many of these cargoes moving in and out of U.S. ports.

“The Port of Cleveland continues to outpace our 2016 international tonnage numbers," said Dave Gutheil, vice president of maritime at the port. "Progress in the project cargo market is continuing, with the latest example being an imported press from Germany to a General Motors plant in northeast Ohio. Containerized cargo on the Cleveland-Europe Express continues to grow, and in October the port received three vessel calls from Spliethoff, up from our usual two monthly calls. Productivity has increased significantly this year due to the use of our Liebherr LHM 280 mobile harbor cranes, which were put into operation mid-2016. We expect a strong finish to the last two months of the 2017 season, with additional project cargo bookings and a large lot of steep pipe expected within the two weeks.“

By Professional Mariner Staff