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U.S. grain dominates St. Lawrence Seaway cargo shipments

July 17, 2013

Contact: Nancy Alcalde, Director, Congressional & Public Relations

Despite a month where cargo totals see-sawed between positive and negative territory, U.S. grain shipments have made a decisive comeback, posting a nearly 50 percent jump from the same time last year.

“U.S. grain continues to rebound strongly from last season’s disappointing performance with a 46 percent rise in tonnage, while several shipments within the Liquid Bulk category posted healthy jumps as the Seaway navigation season approaches midpoint,” said Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development, for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to June 30 were 12 million metric tons, down 11.6 percent over the same period in 2012.

Iron ore and coal, usually solid performers, were both down by 15 percent and 9 percent respectively due to lower steel production. Total general cargo was down 14 percent to 616,000 metric tons.  The liquid bulk category posted a 2.6 percent year-to-date increase to 1.4 million metric tons. The dry bulk category was down 19 percent to 2.7 million metric tons. Within that category, however, scrap metal and pig iron posted upturns of 5 percent and 6 percent respectively.

While many cargo shipments showed a dip to the south, project cargoes were welcomed at the Port of Milwaukee and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. Additionally, there remains optimism on the project cargo front with oil sands projects picking up in the Fall.

“Heavy mining equipment is an excellent example of the unusual and oversized cargo the Port of Milwaukee can handle,” Interim Port Director Paul Vornholt said. “Recently, a mine owner needed to ship a huge Joy Global P&H shovel to the west coast of Mexico. After looking at all the options, the shipper chose to send the cargo by water through both the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Panama Canal. Our port is supporting both local manufacturing and international trade by facilitating the movement of complex cargo.”

"The Port of Duluth looks forward to welcoming four heavy-lift shipments of transformers from Germany,” said Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, owner of the breakbulk terminal where 16 units will be discharged from Hansa Heavy Lift vessels this shipping season. All transformers will eventually be delivered to Canadian destinations via new 16-axle railcars.  

"Crews at our terminal operator – Lake Superior Warehousing – have earned a global reputation for expert handling of dimensional and heavy-lift cargoes. Coupled with the supply chain efficiencies and backhaul opportunities offered by the Great Lakes-Seaway system, customers are increasingly utilizing this bi-national marine highway to move huge components like these in and out of North America's heartland."

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 The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and wages, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial and local taxes. North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system. This vital trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative. 

Port Name: Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation

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