Ottawa, ON — The first official month of summer has come and gone, but the signs of summer were prevalent in the latest Great Lakes-Seaway shipping results. Construction materials were influential in St. Lawrence Seaway cargo tonnage with a nearly 38 per cent increase in asphalt from the same time last year, as well as increases in cement and stone.
“Summer is the season for construction projects and ships have been delivering materials for major building projects across the region,” says Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Grain exports are also up this season and illustrate the importance of marine transportation to so many of Canada’s economic sectors. This was underlined by a new study released last week showing Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping supports 181,000 jobs and CDN$26 Billion in economic activity in Canada.”
Overall cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway between March 29 and June 30 totaled 12.1 million metric tons, down by 2 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. The slight decrease is due to the later and slower start of the season and a decline in salt shipments.
Year-to-date grain shipments via the Seaway (including U.S. and Canadian grain) totaled 3.1 million metric tons, up 7.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. Liquid bulk shipments, which include petroleum and asphalt products among others, totaled 1.8 million metric tons – up 28 per cent. Increases in petroleum shipments are mainly due to the rebalancing of stocks following scheduled maintenance shutdowns of some refineries in the region. Stone shipments were up 32 per cent and cement shipments were up 24 per cent.
In the first half of the year, the Port of Windsor Authority reports approximately 225,000 metric tons of construction aggregates have been received for the new plaza construction for the Gordie Howe Bridge project. The Port of Windsor also reported a 20.9 per cent increase in petroleum over the last year.
As of June 30, the Port of Hamilton is showing a 21 per cent year-over-year increase in cargo tonnage. Leading the way for the Port of Hamilton is agricultural cargo: the export of Ontario-grown grain through the port’s three grain terminals, owned by Richardson International, Parrish & Heimbecker, and G3 Canada Ltd.; as well as imports of fertilizer for use by Ontario producers. The port is closing in on a million metric tons of ag-related cargo already this season, which is an extraordinary milestone for June.
Steel-related commodities, including raw materials for steelmaking represent another strong area for the Port of Hamilton so far this season. Shipments in this category are trending 14 per cent higher than the same period in 2017. This activity is attributed to new momentum at Hamilton-based steelmaker Stelco, and continued robust activity at ArcelorMittal Dofasco.
Liquid bulk is a smaller cargo segment at the port, but also showing strong results in this first part of the season. Imports of liquid bulk products like asphalt and gasoline are up 49 per cent.
“We’re happy when efficient transportation can give the Canadian industries we serve a competitive edge,” says Ian Hamilton, President & CEO, Hamilton Port Authority. “Cargo growth like we’re seeing this season is an indication to us that we’re succeeding in delivering value.”
At the port of Thunder Bay, shipments of traditional bulk cargoes of grain, coal and potash that make up the majority of the port’s cargo, were on par with five-year averages for the month.
Thunder Bay’s project cargo corridor was active, with shipments of steel and windmill parts arriving at the port’s general cargo facility, Keefer Terminal. Cargoes were staged in the terminal’s laydown area before being loaded to rail and truck to destinations in Western Canada.