Cargo shipments up during past year on Great Lakes

WINDSOR — Shipments of road salt and grain capped a strong season for Great Lakes cargo shipping, a new report shows.

Cargo volume through the St. Lawrence Seaway, which extends to Southwestern Ontario and beyond in the Great Lakes basin, topped 36 million metric tonnes between the end of March and the end of November, up 5.3 per cent from the same period last year.

“We expect the busy momentum from November to carry through to when the seaway closes at the end of December,” said Terence Bowles, president and chief executive of St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. “Overall cargo volumes will meet our forecasts to top 40 million metric tonnes in 2018.”

Combined with 2017, St. Lawrence Seaway shipping has grown 14 per cent during the last two years which “underlines the importance of this trade corridor to the success of the many industries we serve in the region,” he said.

In Southwestern Ontario, key ports in the inland shipping system include Windsor, Sarnia and Goderich.

Road salt was a key performer in November, as cities and towns prepared for the winter ahead, while Canadian grain exports through the seaway also were a highlight in November into December as harvests came through.

Canadian seaway grain shipments totalled 8.2 million metric tonnes during the first 11 months of 2018, up 15 per cent from the same period last year. Canadian corn exports have benefited from preferential access to European Union markets combined with retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products.

The Port of Thunder Bay had a strong month, in large part due to high ocean vessel traffic, a trend that is continuing in December.

“Twenty ocean vessels called the port in November to load or unload internationally traded cargo,” said Tim Heney, president and chief executive of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. “We anticipate a total of 400 vessel (international and domestic) calls for the season, which is slightly higher than the 393 calls in 2017.”

dbattagello@postmedia.com

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