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Cargo Shipments through St. Lawrence Seaway Up 5% in May


Ottawa, Ontario — Cargo shipments of commodities through the St. Lawrence Seaway, such as iron ore, coal, aluminum and construction materials, totalled 4.5 million tonnes in May, an increase of 5 per cent over the same month last year.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) also reported that year-to-date shipments through the system from March 22 to May 31 totalled 8.9 million tonnes, up 3.7 per cent over the same period in 2011.

The robust figures continue to be driven by a healthy demand by U.S. and Canadian manufacturers and construction firms for raw materials, along with increased exports of iron ore and coal to international markets.  Shipments of aluminum ingots from Quebec to manufacturers in Ontario and the U.S. have also increased, while international vessels shipped in wind turbine components for projects in Western Canada and U.S. Midwest.

Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the SLSMC, said: “It’s encouraging to see that manufacturers, construction and resource companies in the Great Lakes-Seaway region are continuing to find business opportunities both domestically and internationally despite continuing global economic uncertainty. The St. Lawrence Seaway remains the most efficient way for these companies to transport their goods.”

Coal shipments through the Seaway in May increased by 22 per cent to 528,000 tonnes compared to the same period last year due to export demand from power utilities in Europe.  Year-to-date figures for coal total 1.1 million, an overall improvement of 31 per cent over 2011.

Iron ore shipments through the Seaway were 1.3 million tonnes in May, up 40 per cent compared to the same month last year.  Year-to-date figures for iron ore are up 23 per cent to 2.5 million tonnes. These included U.S. iron ore for international export, and inbound traffic from Labrador for steel manufacturing in Hamilton.  Year-to-date cement exports from Ontario to the U.S. also increased 30 per cent to 393,000 tonnes.

Hamilton-based McKeil Marine Limited, which transports products such as aluminum ingots and project cargo through the Seaway on its articulated tug barges, said it was optimistic about the future prospects for shipping in the Great Lakes-Seaway region.

“We continue to be cautiously optimistic as tonnage increases in some market segments, however, there is little clarity on a long term basis.  The good news is that we are seeing increases month to month, which is encouraging and we continue to attract a number of project cargoes driven predominently by the Nickel Smelter in Newfoundland”, says Steve Fletcher of McKeil Marine Limited.


The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14 billion in salary and wages, $34 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.

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For interviews, please contact Andrew Bogora at the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation on (613) 932-5170 x 3285


Marine Delivers is a bi-national, industry collaboration that aims to demonstrate the positive economic and environmental benefits, safety, energy efficiency, and sustainability of the shipping industry throughout the Great Lakes-Seaway System. The Marine Delivers initiative is administered by the American Great Lakes Ports Association in the United States, and the Chamber of Marine Commerce in Canada. 

About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) is a bi-national association that represents diverse marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as Canadian 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.

Media Contact:
Jason Card
Chamber of Marine Commerce
(613) 447 5401