American grain shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway have increased more than 60 percent this season, says Port Authority.
“There is a considerable amount of grain moving out in salties and lakers this year prior to harvest,” says Joe Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “We have even seen transfers of wheat between the grain elevators and the flour mill via vessel this year within the Port of Toledo. That’s what I call short sea shipping.”
U.S. grain totaled nearly 765,000 metric tons from April 2 to July 31. U.S. Great Lakes ports that receive and export grain through the waterway include Duluth-Superior, Toledo, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indiana Burns Harbor, and Buffalo.
“The more buoyant U.S. economy is also creating demand for other products such as construction, manufacturing and steel-making materials,” says Stephen Brooks, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.
U.S. construction activity has also boosted cement shipments through the Seaway to more than 765,000 metric tons from April 2 to July 31, which is 11 percent higher than last year. Shipments of gypsum, used in wallboard for home construction, were up 35 percent.
Coke tonnage also increased more than 20 percent compared to 2014. Metallurgic coke is used for domestic steel production in Hamilton, Toledo, and Burns Harbor, Indiana.
Across the board, however, cargo tonnage has decreased 7 percent, iron ore has decreased 8 percent, and coal shipments are down 38 percent.