Economic conditions and severe weather conditions have formed the perfect
storm to slow some traditional trade at U.S. ports along the St. Lawrence
Year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to July 31 were
17.1 million metric tons, virtually flat over the same period in 2011, the
St. Lawrence Seaway System reported today.
While July is usually a slow month on the System, not all the news was
negative. “The Great Lakes Seaway system is an attractive market for bulk
cargoes, and offers one of the most promising areas for growth,” said Craig
H. Middlebrook, acting administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway
Development Corporation. “The Midwest is home to some of the world’s largest
manufacturers of heavy equipment, which is in increasing demand around the
globe. As the North American automobile industry continues its rebound, the
demand for imported steel products is also rising. Moreover, the continued
development of varied North American energy resources is translating into
increased demand for waterborne imports of the oversized equipment needed to
support this development.”
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, for example, has handled significant
increases in year-to-date shipments of coke (+118%), fertilizer (+94%),
minerals (+54%), steel (+29%) and grain (+26%).
“Overall shipments have remained relatively steady in 2012 coming off last
year’s highest annual volume in recent history,” said Anthony Kuk, port
director for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. “Our biggest increases have
been driven by growth in local steel manufacturing, but we also saw
continued shipments of mega project cargoes in July, and the August shipping
schedule looks busy as well.”
Recent project cargo shipments at the Port of Burns Harbor include wind
turbines and the world’s largest crawler. The first of its kind, the crane
weighs 1.65 million pounds, has a lifting capacity of 3,000 tons and stands
473 feet tall with its boom fully extended. Built by Liebherr-Werk Ehingen
GmbH in Ehingen, Germany, it was shipped in 190 pieces from Westdorpe,
Netherlands on the MV Elandsgracht. The project cargo was unloaded by the
Port’s terminal operator, Federal Marine Terminals, a subsidiary of Fednav
Ltd. The crane is being transported from the port to Whiting, Indiana by
truck over the next several weeks for use in a major expansion of the BP
Iron ore and coal used in the steel and construction industries were the
positive cargoes in terms of tonnage numbers along the St. Lawrence Seaway
System for the month of July. Iron ore shipments through the Seaway rose 30
percent to 1.4 million metric tons in July. Year-to-date figures for iron
ore were up 28 percent to 5.2 million metric tons. Coal shipments for power
generation and steel production rose to 2.2 million metric tons – a 28
percent hike over 2011.
Cement shipments also posted a 25 percent increase in July due to ongoing
construction work throughout the Great Lakes states.
Grain shipments were down for the third straight month due to extreme
drought conditions in the U.S. July was the hottest month on record, beating
the worst month of the Dust Bowl era in 1936. Small U.S. crops can carry a
global wallop since the United States is the world’s largest farm exporter.
It grows 40 percent of the corn and soybeans as well as a fifth of the wheat
sold on the world market.
“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,” the St. Lawrence Seaway System said.
“This vital trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in
transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based