The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) is announcing that
tonnage increased by 4 percent to 38.9 million tons during the 2012
navigation season, exceeding the SLSMC’s original forecast by 300,000 tons
thanks in part to a late season surge in grain movements.
“Strong performance within a number of core markets contributed to an
overall gain of 1.4 million tons for the year, when compared to the Seaway’s
2011 result of 37.5 million tons,” the SLSMC said in a statement released on
Demand for low sulfur coal in Europe led to a substantial increase in coal
volumes, while busy Chinese steel mills triggered an upsurge in the demand
for iron ore. The shipments of coal and iron ore were brought to the Great
Lakes and loaded on domestic Laker vessels, which then proceeded to the
lower St. Lawrence River, where the commodities were trans-shipped to larger
ocean vessels, for export to overseas destinations.
On the grain front, 2012 was a story of contrasts as strong Canadian grain
movements offset a sharp drop in U.S. grain movements, due to the drought
which impacted the majority of the U.S. grain belt. SLSMC President and CEO
Terence Bowles took note of the essential role played by the Seaway in the
North American transportation network. “The Seaway was instrumental in
providing grain shippers with the means to rapidly respond and capitalize on
market opportunities late in the season,” he said.
Meanwhile, several newly built state-of-the art vessels came into service on
the Seaway in 2012, boasting sharp increases in fuel efficiency and
reductions in emission levels. “These new vessels, part of a billion dollar
fleet renewal effort by domestic and ocean carriers, combined with our
marketing efforts which have recorded 10.6 million tons in new business over
the past five years, underscore the Seaway’s future potential,” Bowles said.
The 2012 season also witnessed an important advance in navigational
technology. “The commissioning of the Draft Information System (DIS) further
enhances vessel safety and efficiency,” said Craig Middlebrook, deputy
administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “A
vessel equipped with DIS can now precisely gauge the amount of water under
the ship’s keel, given satellite guided navigation combined with highly
precise models of the channel floor.”
The St. Lawrence Seaway closed for the season on December 29, 2012, with the
westbound vessel John B. Aird transiting the Iroquois Lock at 8:59 p.m.
After transiting the Iroquois Lock, the John B. Aird proceeded further west
and served as the last vessel to transit the Seaway’s Welland Canal,
clearing Lock 8 at Port Colborne on December 31 at 4:23 a.m.
jobs and $34 billion in economic activity are supported by the movement of
goods within the Great Lakes/Seaway waterway. For more information on the
Seaway, please consult the