While total cargo movements through the St. Lawrence Seaway in August
remained in the negative column (down 9 percent over 2012), the 19.3 million
metric tons of cargo moved through the system represented an improvement
over last month’s statistics, the Saint Lawrence Seaway System (SLSS) said
in a statement released on Monday.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, on the other hand, bucked that general
trend, reporting a 28 percent increase in August’s shipments over the
year-ago period’s and an eight-month total which is 21 percent ahead of last
year’s pace. The 2013 growth was driven by significant increases in
shipments of fertilizer, semi-finished steel, as well as steel-related raw
materials and byproducts.
“We have had four consecutive months of increased shipments,” said Rick
Heimann, port director for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. “Our port
companies handle a diverse mix of cargoes, but being located in the steel
capital of North America certainly has a tremendous impact on volumes coming
through this port on ocean, lake and barge routes.”
Construction is currently underway at the Port of Indiana on significant
infrastructure improvements, including a mainline rail reconstruction
project scheduled to be finished by the end of September.
“Over the past three years, we have upgraded the majority of the mainline
rail track throughout the port,” Heimann said. “Maintaining modern
infrastructure and efficient multimodal transportation connections are very
important to our port customers.”
In addition to the uptick in general cargo traffic at the ports, U.S. grain
was also a bright spot for the month.
“U.S. grain shipped through the Seaway has risen 37 percent through the end
of August over the same period last season, suggesting American wheat, corn
and soybean exports through the St. Lawrence Seaway System may enjoy an
excellent year if weather conditions cooperate through harvest in October,”
said Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development. “Liquid bulk cargoes
are also faring well having topped 2 million tons, 6 percent above their
level at 2012’s mid-season juncture.”
Additionally, as reported by the St. Lawrence Seaway, year-to-date cargo
shipments for the period March 22 to August 31 were 19.3 million metric
tons. Overall, cargo categories were mixed. While steel production
throughout the Great Lakes states is beginning to make a comeback, iron ore
and coal shipments remained down in August by 15 and 2 percent respectively.
Within the dry bulk category, scrap metal was up 3 percent as well as pig
iron at 6 percent.
“The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs
in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and
wages, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal,
state/provincial and local taxes,” the statement said. “North American
farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power
generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials
and finished products that are moved annually on the system. This vital
trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs
compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.”