Ongoing commodity price pressures continued to impact overall tonnage volumes through the St. Lawrence Seaway in September, however, the shipping industry was buoyed by a number of investments by ship operators and one of its major grain customers, G3 Canada Limited.
Terence Bowles, President and CEO for The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said: “This shipping season has been slower because depressed global iron ore and coal prices have stalled exports of those commodities via the Seaway, but underlying that total tonnage number is growth in shipments for domestic sectors like construction, salt mining, agriculture and manufacturing. The investments we’ve seen in recent weeks are testament that there is still plenty of opportunity in Great Lakes-Seaway shipping.”
G3 Canada Limited, a newly formed Canadian agribusiness that combines the assets of Bunge Canada and the former CWB, announced yesterday that it will construct a new lake terminal at the Port of Hamilton for ships to transport Southern Ontario grains and oilseeds to its facilities on the St. Lawrence River for export to global markets.
“G3 is excited to announce this major investment in the Port of Hamilton as part of our vision to create a coast-to-coast Canadian grain enterprise,” said Karl Gerrand, CEO, G3, in a release. “Grain exports from Southern Ontario have been increasing for some time now. We look forward to expanding our relationship with farmers in the province, and will work hard to establish G3 as the partner of choice in marketing their grain.”
The good news follows a number of ship investments in recent weeks. Hamilton-based McKeil Marine, a tug and barge operator whose vessels operate between Canada and the U.S., recently added a bulker ship to the fleet for its customers throughout the Great Lakes and to the east coast of Canada.
St. Catharines-based Algoma Central Corporation reaffirmed its commitment to renew its fleet in September by signing a conditional contract to build three new Seaway-max 740-ft self-unloading ships with a Croatian shipyard, replacing contracts with another shipyard that were cancelled earlier this year. This is on top of an earlier order for two 650-ft vessels.
Wayne Smith, Senior Vice-President, Commercial, Algoma Central Corporation said: “These latest ships will have all the environmental advances and efficiencies of our new Equinox-class and are essential to supporting the competitiveness of our industry and our customers. Algoma is continuing discussions with other parties on further fleet renewal opportunities.”
Port Dover-based Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., which transports bulk cargo to Canadian and U.S. Great Lakes ports, also took delivery of its newest Canadian self-unloading vessel in China. The M/V Manitoulin with a carrying capacity of 25,000 metric tons at Seaway draft will have the largest carrying capacity of any existing river class self-unloader and is expected to be the most efficient vessel of its class on the Great Lakes. The new addition increases the size of Lower Lakes’ fleet to 16, including 10 Canadian- flagged and six U.S.-flagged vessels, and supports recent new long-term business that the company has been awarded.
“This vessel is the first new river class self-unloader to be introduced into Great Lakes service in over 40 years,” commented Scott Bravener, President of Lower Lakes Towing. “This additional capacity reaffirms the company’s commitment to support the growth of its customers. When the Manitoulin arrives in November, it will immediately start carrying limestone to various ports within the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Seaway system to support the construction industry, which has been a strong sector for us this season.”
According to figures from The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, dry bulk shipments from April 2 to September 30, including road salt from Canadian mines and construction materials, remained strong tallying 6.5 million metric tons, up 8 per cent over the same period in 2014.
Overall grain tonnage (Canadian and U.S.) for the season reached 5.8 million metric tons. This was down 14.6 per cent compared to last year’s record year for Canadian grain but is still above the five-year average. The Port of Thunder Bay is expecting a strong October as western Canadian grain harvest has begun reaching port earlier than usual this fall, and rail-car unloads at the port’s grain elevators are increasing.
However, a 15 per cent decline in shipments of iron ore and a 40 per cent decrease in coal shipments continues to drag down overall cargo tonnage on the Seaway. Overall cargo shipments from April 2 to September 30 totaled 22 million metric tons, down 12 per cent from the same period in 2014.
About the Chamber of Marine Commerce
The Chamber of Marine Commerce is a bi-national association that represents more than 150 marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber represents the interests of its members by addressing government issues affecting marine transportation. Advocacy extends to federal, state/provincial and municipal levels of government.
Chamber of Marine Commerce 613-294-8515
The Chamber of Marine Commerce is a bi-national association that represents more than 100 marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system’s significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.
Chamber of Marine Commerce
(613) 447 5401