U.S. Great Lakes ports and the St. Lawrence Seaway handled a deluge of cement, iron ore, petcoke and steel in July supporting the continuing resurgence of manufacturing both in North America and globally.
According to the latest figures, St. Lawrence Seaway cargo volumes from March 22 to July 31 totaled 16.7 million metric tons (Mt), up 5% over the same time period a year ago.
Within the dry bulk cargo category, pet coke shipments are up 93%. “Pet coke is being exported from the Port of Duluth-Superior and the Port of Toledo to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and other countries for both steel and cement production,” said Bruce Burrows, president and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.
Meanwhile, year-to-date iron ore shipments through the Seaway hit 3.5 Mt through July, an increase of 23% from a year ago. Cement shipments have topped 1 million tons, up 25% from 2020. “Cement is being transported from manufacturing plants in Ontario and Quebec to ports across those provinces, as well as across the border to Cleveland, Buffalo and Toledo. We are even seeing cement imported from overseas to Duluth-Superior,” Burrows added.
At the Port of Duluth-Superior, 4.2 million tons of cargo was transported in July, the largest July tonnage total since 2015. For 2021, cargo shipments have topped 15.2 million tons. That represents a 40% increase over last year’s pace and is 6% above the five-season average.
For the season, iron ore shipments have topped 9.5 million tons to finish July 12.6% above the five-season average and 31% above the same time period a year ago.
The Port of Toledo continued to roll through the month of July with tonnage surpassing 2020 totals by more than 30%. Iron ore tonnage increased by 57% to more than 2.4 million. Coal and dry bulk were also up approximately 30% over the 2020 totals with total cargo shipments for all commodities approaching 5 million tons for the season.
“We are certainly in a better place than we were last July when many of our region’s industries were in limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Joseph Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “I believe we will continue to see strong demand for raw materials throughout 2021.”