Seaway optimistic shipments will grow after slow start
Grain exports, along with demand for construction materials such as stone, cement and asphalt, led to shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway increasing in May after ice conditions in the St. Marys River and Lake Superior slowed deliveries in April.
But despite the increase, figures released by St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. show the total number of transits and total tonnage of cargo moved through the 3,700-kilometre St. Lawrence Seaway was still down compared to last year at the same time.
Total cargo moved through the system by the end of May sat at 7.8 million tonnes, down 3.71 per cent from 2017.
The number of vessels — ocean-going, lakers and tugs/ barges — was only slightly down over last year, with 859 ships moving through the system as compared to 867 last year.
Iron ore shipments saw the biggest decrease, down 24.84 per cent, while dry bulk shipments dropped 18.55 per cent.
Coal shipments were up 43.42 per cent, while liquid bulk shipments were up 19.44 per cent over the same time as last year.
“Looking ahead, we foresee momentum continuing as ships transport Canadian grain exports and a wide variety of dry bulk cargoes including construction materials,” said seaway corporation president and CEO Terence Bowles in a release through the Chamber of Marine Commerce.
‘‘ “Looking ahead, we foresee momentum continuing as ships transport Canadian grain exports and a wide variety of dry bulk cargoes including construction materials.”
TERENCE BOWLES St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. CEO
He said the authority is optimistic economic growth will translate into an increase in total cargo volume, with the potential to reach 40 million tonnes by the end of the year.
St. Catharines-based shipping company Algoma Central Corp. — it’s the largest Canadian ship operator in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region — said its vessels are fully-booked for the year.
“We had two brand new selfunloading vessels, the Algoma Sault and the Algoma Innovator, arrive this spring, as well as two vessels purchased and reflagged from the U.S. side of the border,” said Algoma chief operating officer Gregg Ruhl. “All are already hard at work delivering products for our customers in the manufacturing and construction sectors.”
Algoma and its partner NovaAlgoma Cement Carriers (NACC) are expecting the arrival of the NACC Argonaut this month, a recently-converted pneumatic cement carrier that will transport cement products on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
The chamber said Ontario ports were also reporting positive business conditions.
“Two thousand eighteen is off to a great start at the Port of Hamilton,” said Ian Hamilton, chief executive officer of the Hamilton Port Authority. “Now with three grain terminals running at full capacity, exports of Ontario grain were lined up and ready to go from day one. More than half-a-million metric tonnes of Ontario grain has been exported overseas through the port already this season.”
The Algoma Innovator is one of Algoma Central Corp.’s newest vessels on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. It and Algoma’s other vessels are fully-booked for the 2018 shipping season.