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Seaway bolstered by construction, heavy lift cargo


CORNWALL, Ont.–St. Lawrence Seaway results for the first half of the season were bolstered by shipments of construction materials and heavy lift cargo for the renewable energy sector, according to the latest figures released today. However, global weakness for some commodities has slowed overall tonnage results, said the Seaway in a release.

“The Great Lakes-Seaway shipping corridor continues to play a vital role in supporting the Canadian mining and manufacturing sectors along with infrastructure projects and condominium construction in our country’s largest cities,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “However, the outlook for the fall is tempered by the drought in the western provinces, which is lowering expectations for the harvest,” he said.

According to figures from The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, dry bulk tonnage from April 2 to August 31, including road salt from Canadian mines and construction materials, tallied 5.4 million metric tons, up 9 per cent over the same period in 2014.

In August, the Canada Steamship Lines vessel Baie St. Paul carried ten loads of stone to the construction site of the new Champlain Bridge in Montreal. Without this short-sea shipping solution, it would have taken 9,000 truckloads (300-a-day) to carry the materials along Montreal roads during the same one-month time frame.

Canada Steamship Lines President Allister Paterson said: “This operation is a great example of how short-sea shipping contributes to economic development to the benefit of our communities and the environment. One ship can carry the cargo of more than 900 trucks at a fuel consumption rate that’s over 500% more efficient, which means safer and healthier communities and lower infrastructure costs for taxpayers.”

Cement and aggregate shipments into the Port of Toronto from the start of the season to the end of July were up by 7 per cent compared to the same period last year, supporting the city’s booming construction industry. The port is also celebrating double the number of cruise visits, with 13 ships carrying more than 4800 passengers expected to berth this year. The German-owned MS Hamburg with a 440 passenger capacity visited the Port two days ago as part of her round the world tour.

“From the concrete delivered to support Toronto’s booming construction industry to the thousands of visitors from around the world we welcome through our Port, the Port of Toronto has a significant impact on the people, projects, and industries of Toronto,” said Geoffrey Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, PortsToronto. “Last year was one of the Port’s strongest years in recent history due to both cargo imports and cruise ship operations, and 2015 is shaping up to exceed 2014 in a number of areas, with double the amount of cruise ships and an already seven per cent increase in construction-related imports.”

The Port of Thunder Bay was one of the beneficiaries of an uplift in heavy-lift project cargo (other general cargo) shipments via the Seaway between April 2 and August 31, up 23 per cent compared to last season.  The port has received wind turbines, over-sized equipment for a Northern Ontario gold mine and machinery for energy projects in Alberta’s oil sands.

These areas of strength, however, were offset by a 16 per cent decline in shipments of iron ore via the St. Lawrence Seaway, a 38 per cent decrease in coal shipments, and a decline in Canadian grain cargoes compared to a blockbuster 2014. As a result, overall cargo tonnage on the Seaway from April 2 to August 31 was 18.3 million metric tons, down 10.6 per cent from the same period in 2014.


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