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St. Lawrence Seaway Cargo Shipments Up 5 percent in May


Tonnage Numbers at U.S. Ports Remain Strong

Washington, D.C. (June 12, 2012)– North American commodities used in the steel and construction industries continued to fuel an uptick in tonnage numbers along the St. Lawrence Seaway System.  International demand for shipments of iron ore and coal drove exports during the month of May.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to May 31 were 8.9 million metric tons, up 3.7 percent over the same period in 2011.

“Seaway tonnage increases this year continue to nudge upward to 5 percent overall when compared to the same time frame last year.  Double digit figures were noted in coal and iron ore, and general cargo is up almost 7 percent,” said Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. 

The month of May also saw a rise in international vessels delivering wind turbine components for wind farm projects in the American mid-west and western Canada.“The Port of Ogdensburg welcomed three ships carrying wind components and expect four more vessels in June.  Shippers are pushing to transport turbines to wind farms before year’s end in order to take advantage of the expiring tax credit deadline,” said Spruill.

Iron ore shipments through the Seaway rose 41 percent to 1.3 million metric tons in May. Year-to-date figures for iron ore were up 24 percent to 2.5 million metric tons.  Bulk materials, which include pig iron, stone and cement, realized a year-to-date increase of 8 percent to 2.3 million metric tons.  

Coal shipments for power generation and steel production rose to 1.1 million metric tons – a 31 percent hike over 2011. Salt tonnage posted a 37 percent rise in May to 295,000 metric tons as North American cities continue to replenish their reserves for road salt.

Grain shipments, however, were down on both sides of the border – May saw a 22 percent downturn for all grain in 2012 versus the same time last year.

U.S. ports along the system remain optimistic about the shipping season.

Last month, the Port of Oswego received it largest single shipment of aluminum. That trend extended into May. “Aluminum shipments sustained a record pace, with inbound amounts in excess of 7,000 metric tons per vessel call. We look forward to this trend continuing through the shipping season. In addition, the Port opened the West Terminal to general cargo shipments for the first time in the Port’s history,” said port director Jonathan Daniels.

At the Port of Milwaukee, project cargo took center stage and involved the first American ship to load cargo from that port for an overseas destination in more than 30 years. Two mining shovels built by Milwaukee-based P&H Mining Equipment are part of an ongoing relationship between that company and the Russian Federation’s coal industry. The U.S.-flag vessel carried nearly 8,000 cubic meters of machinery bound for Siberia. A third shovel is scheduled to ship from Milwaukee in September. “We’re seeing a healthy amount of traffic here at the Port including this export to Russia. 2012 looks to be another good year,” said Eric Reinelt, port director.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled its first shipment of wind components in May and has seen major increases in several steel products as well as industrial and agricultural cargoes resulting in a 6 percent increase in 2012 shipments through the first five months. There have also been significant increases in early shipments of fertilizer, corn and soybeans, which are 10 times greater than at this point last year.

“We’ve seen a major increase in steel coils and scrap metal shipments this year as well as limestone and magnesite, which is a promising sign of continued recovery in the region’s strong manufacturing and industrial base,” said port director Anthony Kuk. “We’re also seeing new outbound shipments of slag material for Phoenix Services, which is one of three companies opening new facilities at the port in 2012.”


The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and wages, $33.5 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: Nancy Alcalde, Director, Congressional & Public Relations, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation on 202-366-0091.


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