Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping rebounded in August due to a surge in U.S. grain exports, iron ore shipment improvements and a steady flow of raw materials for manufacturing and construction.

“We’ve seen a real rally in August. St. Lawrence Seaway cargo shipments were up 8 percent compared to the same month last year,” said Stephen Brooks, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “U.S. grain exports now match last season’s strong performance. Iron ore shipments have improved as Canadian and U.S. mines have boosted production and we continue to see steady demand for aluminum, cement and asphalt.”

The August acceleration lifted year-to-date Seaway cargo shipments (from March 21 to August 31) to 17.3 million metric tons (Mt). While this number is down 7.5 percent compared to the same period in 2015, the busier August narrowed the gap.

U.S. grain shipments via the Seaway (from March 21 to August 31) totaled 1.1 Mt with wheat, corn and soybeans being loaded in ports such as Duluth-Superior and Toledo, Ohio.

“Grain shipments through the Port of Duluth-Superior have been running well ahead of last year – some 18 percent as of early last month,” said Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “Recent shipments have included not only wheat and beet pulp pellets bound directly for Mediterranean ports but also cargoes headed through the Great Lakes-Seaway system to Canadian ports aboard Canadian-flag lakers.”

Year-to-date domestic general cargo shipments are up 23 percent compared to last season, with aluminum ingots (for car and truck manufacturing) shipped by McKeil Marine from the Aluminerie Alouette plant in Sept-Iles, Quebec, to Oswego, N.Y.; Detroit, Mich.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Cement shipments have topped over a million metric tons for the season (March 21 to August 31), while liquid bulk including asphalt and petroleum products reached 2.2 Mt, up 29 percent over the same period last year.

The Port of Green Bay benefitted from the brisk activity with monthly cargo up 16.7 percent compared to the same month in 2015.

Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Director Dean Haen, said: "Cement and limestone were our largest imports in August. When we look at the year to this point, salt has also been another big import – up 40 percent over last year. Petroleum shipments also continue to be strong due to the shutdown of the Wisconsin pipeline with imports of gasoline and diesel coming from Montreal, New York and Toledo."

Ports and ship owners are now gearing up for the autumn, traditionally the busiest time of the season.

“The Port of Cleveland was excited to see an increase in steel shipments throughout August, when compared to July. We expect continued momentum in our cargo numbers throughout the remainder of the shipping season,” said Jade Davis, vice president of external affairs, Port of Cleveland.

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