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Seaway officials: Cargo shipments up 5 percent in May

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MASSENA – North American commodities used in the steel and construction industries continued to fuel an uptick in tonnage numbers along the St. Lawrence Seaway System.

International demand for shipments of iron ore and coal drove exports during May, according to a release from the St. Lawrence Seaway Development .

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to May 31 were 8.9 million metric tons, up 3.7 percent over the same period in 2011.

“Seaway tonnage increases this year continue to nudge upward to 5 percent overall when compared to the same time frame last year. Double digit figures were noted in coal and iron ore, and general cargo is up almost 7 percent,” according to Rebecca Spruill, director of Trade Development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

May also saw a rise in international vessels delivering wind turbine components for wind farm projects in the American mid-west and western Canada. “The port of Ogdensburg welcomed three ships carrying wind components and expect four more vessels in June. Shippers are pushing to transport turbines to wind farms before year’s end in order to take advantage of the expiring tax credit deadline,” Ms. Spruillsaid.

Iron ore shipments through the seaway rose 41 percent to 1.3 million metric tons in May. Year-to-date figures for iron ore were up 24 percent to 2.5 million metric tons. Bulk materials, which include pig iron, stone and cement, realized a year-to-date increase of 8 percent to 2.3 million metric tons.

Coal shipments for power generation and steel production rose to 1.1 million metric tons – a 31 percent hike over 2011. Salt tonnage posted a 37 percent rise in May to 295,000 metric tons as North American cities continue to replenish their reserves for road salt.

Grain shipments, however, were down on both sides of the border – May saw a 22 percent downturn for all grain in 2012 versus the same time last year.

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