Chesterton Tribune

Steel industry driving up tonnage numbers on St Lawrence Seaway trade

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North American commodities used in the steel and construction industries continued to fuel an uptick in tonnage numbers along the St. Lawrence Seaway System, with international demand for shipments of iron ore and coal driving imports in May, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said in a statement released today.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to May 31 were 8.9 million metric tons, up 3.7 percent over the same period in 2011.

“Seaway tonnage increases this year continue to nudge upward to 5 percent overall when compared to the same time frame last year,” said Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “Double digit figures were noted in coal and iron ore, and general cargo is up almost 7 percent.”

May also saw a rise in international vessels delivering wind turbine components for wind farm projects in the American mid-west and western Canada. “The Port of Ogdensburg welcomed three ships carrying wind components and expect four more vessels in June,” Spruill said. “Shippers are pushing to transport turbines to wind farms before year’s end in order to take advantage of the expiring tax credit deadline.”

Iron ore shipments through the Seaway rose 41 percent to 1.3 million metric tons in May. Year-to-date figures for iron ore were up 24 percent to 2.5 million metric tons. Bulk materials, which include pig iron, stone, and cement, realized a year-to-date increase of 8 percent to 2.3 million metric tons.

Meanwhile, coal shipments for power generation and steel production rose to 1.1 million metric tons—a 31 percent hike over 2011—and salt tonnage posted a 37 percent rise in May to 295,000 metric tons as North American cities continue to replenish their reserves for road salt.

Grain shipments, however, were down on both sides of the border, the statement said. May saw a 22 percent downturn for all grain in 2012 versus the same time last year.

U.S. ports along the system remain optimistic about the shipping season.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled its first shipment of wind components in May and has seen major increases in several steel products as well as industrial and agricultural cargoes resulting in a 6 percent increase in 2012 shipments through the first five months. There have also been significant increases in early shipments of fertilizer, corn and soybeans, which are 10 times greater than at this point last year.

“We’ve seen a major increase in steel coils and scrap metal shipments this year as well as limestone and magnesite, which is a promising sign of continued recovery in the region’s strong manufacturing and industrial base,” said Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor Director Anthony Kuk. “We’re also seeing new outbound shipments of slag material for Phoenix Services, which is one of three companies opening new facilities at the port in 2012.”


Posted 6/13/2012