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September Commodity Shipments Strong on St. Lawrence Seaway


North American grain and iron ore exports in September have accelerated a rebound in shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and at least one port is reporting a double-digit increase in limestone shipments.

“While overall tonnage is about 5 percent behind last year, the resurgence in shipping activity that started in August continued last month,” said Raymond Johnston, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “U.S. grain exports are up and we’re seeing a resumption of iron ore exports from ports in the Upper Great Lakes such as Duluth-Superior due to improved world pricing.”

Total seaway year-to-date shipments (March 21 through September 30) reached 21.2 million metric tons (Mt). Shipments of aluminum, for the auto industry, remained a growth area for several ports including Toledo, Ohio, Detroit and Oswego, N.Y. In addition, liquid bulk shipments, including petroleum, asphalt and other products, totaled 2.5 Mt, up 25 percent.

For the Port of Green Bay, September was a strong month with an 8 percent increase in overall tonnage compared to 2015. “Much of the increase continues to be due to shipping of petroleum products,” said Dean Haen, director of the Port of Green Bay. “We’ve also seen a 10 percent increase in limestone shipments coming into our port.”

“We continued to outpace last year’s totals for coal, liquids and general cargo shipments through the Port of Toledo in September,” said Joseph Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Aluminum shipments originating in Canada led the way in the general cargo category, improving 27 percent over last year.