St. Lawrence Seaway Cargo Shipments Up 3%

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OTTAWA — Total cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway have surpassed 2013 levels despite one of the most difficult starts to the shipping season in years due to ice coverage, says the Chamber of Marine Commerce, in figures released today.

According to Seaway figures, total cargo tonnage from March 25 to Aug. 31 reached 20 million metric tons, up 3 percent over the same period last year.

“The fact that Seaway shipments have not only recovered after the season’s icy start but have now surpassed 2013 levels is testament to the navigation system’s resiliency,” says Stephen Brooks, president, Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Vessels have been extremely busy carrying grain for export, steel and aluminum for the U.S. automotive industry and materials for construction and this level of activity is expected to continue until the end of year.”

The strong recovery has been fuelled by grain exports, increases in road salt inventories for Great Lakes municipalities and an influx of specialty steel and other metals for the automotive and construction industries.  Construction materials such as stone and cement have also been in strong demand.

Total grain shipments (including U.S. and Canadian) have reached 5.6 million metric tons, up 73 percent over last year. U.S. grain so far this season has totaled 630,000 metric tons, up 13 percent.

General cargo tonnage — including specialty steel imports as well as aluminum and oversized project cargo like machinery or wind turbines — has topped 1.5 million metric tons, up 66 percent.

Speciality steel is shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the ports of Cleveland, Detroit, Burns Harbor, Toledo and Milwaukee, and then further processed by U.S. manufacturers for use in the automotive industries.

Year-to-date dry bulk cargo totaled 4.9 million metric tons, with strong increases in construction materials such as stone and cement, as well as road salt.

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