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Positive Start to St. Lawrence Seaway Shipping Season in Canada



Immediate Release                                                                                   

Ottawa,Ontario — Strong demand for key North American commodities such as coal, iron ore and Canadian grain have fuelled a positive start for the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation reported that cargo shipments through the bi-national marine highway from March 22 to April 30 totalled 4.4 million tonnes, up 2 per cent over the same period in 2011.

Coal shipments through the Seaway increased by 40 per cent to 600,000 tonnes compared to the same period last year due to export demand from power utilities in Europe.  Last year, Midwest Energy Resources Company in the U.S. shipped some 350,000 tonnes of low-sulphur coal through the St. Lawrence Seaway for export.  The coal was carried on Canada Steamship Lines vessels to Quebec ports, where it was then loaded onto ocean carriers for the voyage across the Atlantic. The company has said that they expect to export a further 1.5 million tonnes in 2012.

Iron ore shipments through the Seaway were up 8 per cent to 1.1 million tonnes.  These included U.S. iron ore for international export, and inbound traffic from Quebec mines for steel manufacturing in Hamilton.  The Hamilton Port Authority reported that inbound iron ore shipments were in line with last year, indicating that the domestic market remains stable.

Cement exports from Ontario to the U.S. also increased 46 per cent to 251,000 tonnes.

“It is still early days, but we are seeing a positive start to the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season. The increase in shipment of some products, such as cement for instance, indicates that American economic conditions could be improving. All of the cement that flows through the St. Lawrence Seaway is exported to the United States for construction and has historically been a barometer for the Seaway on tracking the health of the American economy. So we’re off to a good start,” says Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

Canadian grain shipments increased by 15 per cent to 750,000 tonnes, while U.S. grain was down 77 per cent to 54,000 tonnes. 

“Canadian grain exports have started off strong this season as vessels clear out the grain that has been stored over the winter.  The Port of Thunder Bay reported that April wheat shipments were up 63 per cent over last year.  The decrease in American grain shipments reflects difficult growing conditions last year. Farmers couldn’t get into the fields because of flooding,” says Hodgson.

The Port of Windsor also reported a 10 per cent increase in outbound grain shipments to 564,000 tonnes, with canola and soymeal leaving the port destined for the United States and parts of Canada. ADM operates a plant in Windsor, Ontario that crushes soybeans and canola for use in various food ingredients and animal feeds.


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