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Seaway cargo traffic jumps in July; still down 4 percent year to date from 2013 numbers

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Washington, D.C. – Over 15 million metric tons of cargo moved through the St. Lawrence Seaway during the month of July, down 4 percent over last year, marking a sustained comeback after the slow start to the shipping season.

“The month of July was extremely busy for our ports on the Great Lakes-Seaway System as they handled high value cargoes like steel, wind components, and machinery that arrived from 13 different countries,” said Rebecca Spruill, director of Trade Development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “When compared to July of last year, double the number of foreign flagged ships from as far away as Korea and Taiwan transited through the U.S. locks.”

The American Great Lakes Ports Association, in a release, said project cargoes played a major role in the cargo shipment jump in July. The Port of Muskegon welcomed the HHL Elbe on July 7 carrying wind turbine blades from Brake, Germany and nacelles from Rostock, Germany.

On July 17, the BBC cargo ship, Peter Roenna, arrived at the Port of Duluth carrying over two dozen renewable wind energy components after a voyage from Brande, Denmark, where the equipment is manufactured by Siemens A.G. Since the port first started handling these project cargoes for Minnesota Power, a total of 15 shiploads of wind energy equipment have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, sailed through the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Great Lakes into Duluth.

At the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, total maritime tonnage for July 2014 YTD is nearly 25 percent ahead of last year’s volume with steel products leading the way. “Marine traffic into the port continues to be up at a steady pace with steel and steel-related byproducts continuing to drive strong shipments,” Port Director Rick Heimann said in the release.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 28 to July 31 were 15 million metric tons, down 4 percent over the same period in 2013. Iron ore and coal were both down by 37 and 16 percent respectively. General cargo was up 61 percent overall with iron and steel, and steel slabs posting increases of 78 and 111 percent over 2013. U.S. grain shipments were down by 9 percent in July over last year. The liquid bulk category posted a downturn of 24 percent to 1.3 million metric tons. The dry bulk category was down 1 percent over 2013. However, within that category, salt, cement, ores, and fertilizers were all in the positive column, with fertilizers at a 118 percent hike.

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