Canadian Shipper


Cargo shipments bounce back in May on St. Lawrence Seaway

Ottawa, ON — After ice blocked many ships from reaching ports in April, the latest numbers show that cargo shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway rebounded following a busy May. According to The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, shipments from March 22 to May 31 totaled 8.3 million metric tons, equaling last year’s strong performance.

“Fueled by world demand for Canadian prairie wheat, iron ore and road salt, the 2019 shipping season is off to a good start,” says Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “If May’s pace continues, it bodes well to build on the 17 per cent growth accumulated over the past two years.”

The Canadian domestic fleet has increased in size by 10 per cent compared to 2017, attempting to meet this growth, with a net five ships being added to the fleet.  During the last month, for example, McKeil Marine has announced the addition of two ships, the tanker Hinch Spirit that will carry products for Petro-Canada Lubricants and a general cargo ship, the M.V. Blair McKeil, which will carry a variety of cargo including cement, quartz, coke, salt and gypsum.

Dry bulk cargoes via the Seaway (2.2 million metric tons from March 22 to May 31) are up 11 per cent, buoyed by a surge in road salt shipments in May as cities across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region replenished their supplies after the long, difficult winter. Imported salt continues to move into the system as a result of ongoing HWY H2O marketing efforts and collaboration.

Canadian grain shipments were up 6 per cent from the same time last year, thanks to world demand for the leftover prairie wheat from the 2018 crop. Iron ore volumes saw an 8 per cent increase due to the continued demand for steel production both domestically and internationally in China and elsewhere. Canadian ports saw these trends.

Fednav’s Federal Schelde at the Port of Johnstown (SLSMC)

The Port of Johnstown experienced a strong beginning to the navigation season with a total of 191,842 metric tons of cargo going over its docks. Johnstown received 168,000 metric tons of salt while 24,000 metric tons of corn and soybeans were shipped out. Johnstown Port officials say 13 vessels have arrived so far in 2019, more than doubling the six vessels welcomed in this timeframe in 2018.

“Cargo is over 80 per cent higher than last year at this time primarily due to shipments of salt coming in,” said Robert Dalley, General Manager of the Port of Johnstown. “All in all, it’s shaping up to be a good first half for the Port.”

The Port of Hamilton is also off to a strong start, with agricultural commodities leading the way. Fertilizer cargo is up 25 per cent over the same period in 2018, and exports of Ontario-grown grain are up by 9 per cent relative to 2018.

“This continued growth illustrates the value the Port provides Ontario’s farmers, helping them get their product to markets all over the world,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO, Hamilton Port Authority.

Earlier this month, Sucro Sourcing also announced the completion of its new granular sugar refinery at the Port of Hamilton, which will begin refining sugar immediately. Sucro Sourcing is the first successful sugar production facility built in Canada since 1958, supplying some of the leading multinational food manufacturers in Canada since 2014.

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