St.Lawrence Seaway has unexpected cargo boost

MONTREAL — The St. Lawrence Seaway is recovering from the worst cargo season in years with an unexpected resurgence in exports of iron ore and grain in the first half of the shipping year.

Cargo shipments increased 18 per cent between March 20 and July 31 from a year ago to 16 million tonnes, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

Momentum that started last fall has continued through the first half of the year, said Seaway CEO Terence Bowles.

“The main drivers have been U.S. iron ore and Canadian grain exports along with domestic demand for steel, salt, and construction materials,” he said in a release.

Iron ore shipments grew 68 per cent to 3.7 million tonnes to meet higher demand from Japan and China for the key ingredient in steelmaking. An export program started last year and higher prices spurred activity a year after weak conditions curtailed exports, said Julia Fields of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

U.S. iron ore pellets loaded at Minnesota ports by Canadian carriers are shipped through the seaway to the Port of Quebec, where they are transferred to larger ocean-going vessels.

“The economies of Canada and the United States have generally improved since the spring of 2016, and that’s also reflected in the increase in some of the other cargo categories,” she wrote in an email.

Seaway salt shipments from Ontario and Quebec mines rose 42 per cent to 1.4 million tonnes.

Canadian grain shipments were up nine per cent to 3.1 million tonnes as last fall’s harvest in the Prairies and Ontario was sent to overseas markets.

The Port of Thunder Bay, the main Great Lakes gateway for Prairie grain, shipped 350,000 tonnes more grain than usual as of July 31.

Total traffic at the Port of Windsor was up nearly 20 per cent, with much of the traffic being shipped on foreign vessels.

“We had anticipated a slight recovery after the downturn in 2016, but these numbers have exceeded our projections,” said Windsor Port CEO David Cree.

The size of this fall’s grain harvest will be a factor in determining total shipments through the seaway during the rest of the season.

Total cargo passing through the seaway fell to a seven-year low last year, with tonnage slipping 3.4 per cent to 35 million tonnes. An increase in grains and liquid bulk volumes failed to offset a 13 per cent drop in iron ore and nearly 10 per cent decreases in coal and dry bulk goods.

Slowing growth in China had previously curtailed international cargo demand, which hasn’t been able to keep up with a surge in the number of vessels after a shipbuilding boom between 2002 and 2008.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said Tuesday that cargo passing through the port increased four per cent to 69 million tonnes, with mid-year records in bulk grain and containers.

Container traffic grew 9.6 per cent to a record 1.6 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalents) due to a strengthening economy and global demand for Canadian products and higher demand in Canada for consumer and manufacturing goods from Asia. Grains were up 55 per cent as bulk grain marked its sixth consecutive year of record mid-year volumes.

Just Posted

Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages to close in 2018

This will be the last Christmas for Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages.… Continue reading

Celestial light show can be seen over Red Deer this week

Local students stay up to watch the meteor shower

Businesses to gather to talk about crime

Red Deer Downtown Business Association understands challenges

Red Deer RCMP make numerous arrests in covert stolen vehicle operation

Eight people facing 34 charges after four-day police operation last week

Watch: Man plays flaming bagpipes while riding a unicycle in a ‘Star Wars’ costume

The sight of Darth Vader, riding a unicycle and playing flaming bagpipes,… Continue reading

Dying man’s wish to see new ‘Star Wars’ movie coming true

A dying man’s wish to see the new “Star Wars” movie is… Continue reading

Bountiful polygamist believed he couldn’t be prosecuted: lawyer

Winston Blackmore’s lawyer says Blackmore did not believe he could be prosecuted

Trudeaus, Mulroneys, Erdem? Canadians who could snag a royal wedding invite

Save the date. Kensington Palace announced Friday that Prince Harry and Meghan… Continue reading

More to be done to ensure timely justice, retiring Beverley McLachlin says

Canada’s retiring top judge says more must be done to ensure the… Continue reading

Labrador mayor who was shot in face in hunting accident has died

John Hickey accidently shot himself while checking rabbit snares

Shelter dogs could go vegan in Los Angeles

Los Angeles may soon be home to a lot more vegan dogs.… Continue reading

The coolest way to serve coffee at dinner’s end

I can put together a decent dinner party. But when it comes… Continue reading

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

One of the thousands of firefighters battling a series of wildfires across… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month