Rock Products - The Leading Voice of the Aggregate Industries.

Demand For Great Lakes Limestone Weak In May


With the construction and steel industries mired in recession, demand for limestone on the Great Lakes in May was down

With the construction and steel industries mired in recession, demand for limestone on the Great Lakes in May was down significantly, according to data from the Lake Carriersí Association. Shipments from U.S. and Canadian ports fell below 2.9 million tons, a decrease of 32% compared to a year ago. Compared to Mayís five-year average, loadings were off 40%.

Although rising water levels are allowing vessels to carry more stone each trip, full loads remain unattainable because of the lack of dredging. Industry representatives had hoped the economic stimulus package would provide funds to accelerate the removal of the 17 million cubic yards of sediment that clog ports and waterways, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers only allocated 2% of its stimulus dollars to the Great Lakes, the association says.

For the year, the lakesí limestone trade stands at 4.4 million tons, a decrease of 40% compared to a year ago, and only one-half of the five-year average for the January-May timeframe.

Lake Carriersí Association represents 18 American companies that operate 65 U.S.-Flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials, including iron ore and fluxstone, limestone and cement, and coal. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo a year when high water offsets lack of adequate dredging.