October shipments remain strong: Seaway

by Canadian Shipper

OTTAWA,Ont.–Shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway remained strong in October, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, reported. 

According to the Seaway, total cargo tonnage from March 25 to October 31 reached 29.6 million metric tons, up 4.5 per cent over the same period last year. Record grain and robust steel shipments have more than offset a drop in iron ore shipments through the Seaway. Year-to-date grain shipments (including Canada and the U.S.) totaled 8.4 million metric tons, an increase of 49.9 per cent compared to 2013. This increase was offset by a 26.5 per cent decrease in iron ore volumes through the system and an 11 per cent decrease in coal tonnage, the report said. 

“Autumn is typically the St. Lawrence Seaway’s busiest time as North American steel mills rely on our waterway to stockpile iron ore and coal in advance of the winter months and cities across Canada and the U.S. bring in much-needed salt for road safety. In October, farmers started shipping the new harvest via the Seaway to countries around the world. This activity emphasizes how important the navigation system is to the economic recovery and success of the Canadian and U.S. economies,” said Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation — 

Great Lakes – Seaway vessels were carrying iron ore and coal to Ontario steel producers ahead of the Seaway’s winter closure and steel shipments for the automotive and construction industries. Steel shipments remained strong tallying 1.8 million metric tons, up 76 per cent. Cement products, destined for construction projects in Ontario and Great Lakes U.S. states, totaled 1.2 million, up 9 per cent.

With winter weather just weeks away, municipal stockpiling of road salt took on a new sense of urgency. Salt shipments via the Seaway now total 2.3 million metric tons, up by 34 per cent this season. NA mines have been working hard to replenish city reserves in Canada and the U.S. and the Seaway is also seeing salt imported from overseas to meet the high demands. That activity is expected to continue. The Port of Johnstown, for example, is expected to receive 175,000 metric tons of salt in the coming weeks, which will be trucked to municipalities like Ottawa and Kingston, the Seaway said in a statement.

Grain handlers also started exporting the new soybean harvest out of Ontario ports. Grain shipments at the Port of Hamilton have topped one million metric tons for the season to the end of October, up 8 per cent over the same period last year.

 The Seaway also continued to be a vital conduit for Western Canadian farmers, with elevators at the Port of Thunder Bay simultaneously handling the remainder of last year’s bumper crop and the new 2014 harvest. As of October 31, grain shipments through the port hit 6.3 million metric tons, 73 per cent higher than last season.

“This is an important time of year for our port users. Grain shipments through the port are up 8 per cent this season and Ontario’s new harvest is now heading to market. Hamilton’s grain terminals are gearing up for another busy fall season. Our steel producer and other manufacturing-related tenants will also be using the next two months to bring in materials for their activities over the winter,” said Bruce Wood, President and CEO of Hamilton Port Authority.

“After losing sailing days due to ice at the start of the season and with only two months left in the season, Great Lakes – Seaway ships are working flat out to deliver for North American businesses and consumers. This frantic pace is necessary from now all the way to the end of December to make up for lost time,” said Stephen Brooks, President, Chamber of Marine Commerce.

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