U.S.-flag iron ore cargoes decline again in July

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

(CLEVELAND) — With the nation awash in dumped foreign steel, iron ore cargoes carried by U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (lakers) fell again in July. Loadings totaled 4.7 million tons, a decrease of 10 percent compared to a year ago. The slump comes on the heels of a 10 percent decrease in June.

Total cargo movement in U.S. hulls totaled 10.9 million tons in July, a decrease of 4 percent compared to a year ago.

U.S.-flag lakers’ coal float increased 6.4 percent in July, but shipments of limestone dipped by 5.6 percent. The stone trade is also feeling the impacts of unfair trade in steel. Steel production is the primary driver behind demand for fluxstone and metallurgical stone.

The failure of the MacArthur Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on July 29 did not play a major role in the month’s totals, but six U.S.-flag lakers and 250,000 tons of cargo were delayed for about 13 hours between the lock’s closure and midnight July 31. The lock reopened on Aug. 17. In total, 79 U.S.-flag lakers and 1.9 million tons of cargo were delayed for approximately 160 hours during the 20-day closure.

Year-to-date, U.S.-flag carriage stands at 42.5 million tons, an increase of 10.7 percent compared to a year ago. Iron ore, coal and limestone have all registered increases over their end-of-July totals in 2014, but those increases in part reflect the catastrophic ice conditions that prevailed for the first five months of that year. Heavy ice so delayed the resumption of the ore trade in March 2014 that at least one steelmaker had to curtail production and normal transit times did not become routine until early May. The ice was formidable again this spring, but had largely cleared by late April.

The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 16 American companies that operate 56 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 115 million tons of cargo per year. More information is available at www.lcaships.com.

By Professional Mariner Staff