Skip to Main Content

St. Lawrence Seaway trade lifted by brisk activity in Canadian Ports


Ottawa, Ontario — Shipments of wind turbines, coal, and iron ore into Canadian ports in June is helping keep cargo trade steady through the St. Lawrence Seaway in the traditionally slower summer months.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation reported that year-to-date shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway from March 22 to June 30 totalled 13.2 million, up 1.3 per cent from the same period last year.  Cargo shipments for the month of June totalled 4.3 million tonnes, down 3 per cent from the same month in 2011 due to a decrease in Canadian and U.S. grain and dry bulk such as coke, stone and scrap metal. Shipments of cargo such as wind turbine components and other heavy machinery, however, increased by 163 per cent in June compared to the same month last year. Total coal shipments through the Seaway were 624,000 tonnes in June, up 28 per cent; while iron ore shipments were up 34 per cent to 1.4 million tonnes. Year-to-date coal shipments are up 30 per cent to 1.8 million, while year-to-date iron ore shipments are up 27 per cent to 3.8 million.

Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said: “Wind turbine activity through the Seaway has been strong this year and we expect that it will have a strong finish in the second-half of the season as there are additional projects pending. Looking forward, depending on the health of the current crop, we should see an increase in Canadian grain shipments in September. We also anticipate that aluminum shipments from the Port of Sept-Iles into the Great Lakes will continue to be strong this year as they have been for the past few months.”

Ninety pieces of wind turbine towers sailed into the Port of Thunder Bay aboard three vessels in June. The components were manufactured in Spain and are destined for the Rim Rock wind turbine farm in Montana. They will travel by rail to Alberta before making their final journey across the border. Five ships have already delivered 150 pieces this spring to the port and a further three vessels are expected in July and August. Shipments of European wind energy components to the U.S. are up this year in the face of the uncertainty over the future of the American federal government’s Production Tax Credit for renewable energy facilities. The credits will expire at year’s end if Congress doesn’t renew them.

“This has been a record spring for project cargo deliveries for the Port of Thunder Bay. The Rim Rock energy project has resulted in a huge boost in business for us, but we have also had wind turbine shipments for wind energy farms in Alberta,” says Tim Heney, president and CEO of Thunder Bay Port Authority. “Quotes for oil sands project cargo have also picked up and we expect to see more activity from that industry in the future.”

Heney also noted that coal shipments through the Port have rebounded from a difficult year last year and are up 25 per cent year-to-date. The Alberta coal is shipped to steel facilities at the Port of Hamilton and Sault St. Marie. U.S coal is also continuing to be exported through the Seaway to Quebec ports, where it is being loaded onto ocean carriers to ship overseas for European power generation.

The Port of Windsor also had a busy June with overall cargo shipments totaling 578,000 tonnes, up 20 per cent from the same month last year.  The main source of growth was attributed to an influx of stone from Ohio to be used for road construction, including the new Windsor-Essex Parkway.

“Cargo is steady across the port with a larger increase in aggregrate,” said David Cree, President and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority. “We’ve received 242,000 tonnes of stone in June, which is half of all the stone we have received since the shipping season started.”  Cree also announced earlier this week that the Windsor Port Authority has signed a 60-year lease with the Department of National Defence to provide the site for a new $20-million home for the HMCS Hunter and its 150 sailors and other reservists. Construction of the military training centre will start this fall — providing a further boost to cargo shipments of material — and the new HMCS Hunter – named for a Canadian warship that took part in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812 – should be commissioned in late 2014.


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.

Follow Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping news on http://www.localhost:10089 and on Twitter @MarineDelivers

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