Great Lakes carriers say volumes off sharply
The Lake Carriers Association said the “relentless recession” resulted in U.S.-flag Great Lakes ships carrying only 7.2 million net tons of cargo in June, a 37 percent decrease from June 2008.
The association, representing 18 companies operating 65 U.S.-flag ships, said the biggest decrease came in iron ore cargos for the steel industry, as loadings dropped 57 percent to 2.2 million tons. Limestone cargos decreased 39 percent to 1.9 million tons.
“The weakness in the stone trade not only reflects reduced demand for fluxstone from steel mills, but also the paucity of construction projects that drive demand for aggregate in the Great Lakes basin,” the group said.
Coal trade was about flat. Loadings in U.S. hulls totaled 2.5 million net tons, a decrease of 120,000 tons compared to a year ago, or roughly two cargos in a 1,000-foot vessel.
Looking more broadly at total coal loadings for all ships from U.S. and Canadian ports on the Great Lakes, coal volumes totaled 3.6 million net tons, a 16 percent decrease compared to a year ago. June loadings were 18.5 percent off the month's five-year average.
Superior Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior, Wis., loaded its 400 millionth ton of coal on June 16. The facility began shipping coal mined in the Powder River Basin in 1976. The benchmark cargo was loaded into the U.S.-flag laker American Integrity for delivery to the Detroit Edison power plants in St. Clair and Monroe, Mich.
The association, which is a long-time advocate for increased dredging of harbors on the Great Lakes, noted, “the downside to this achievement was the amount of coal the vessel was able to load on June 16. The cargo totaled 66,513 net tons. The American Integrity is 1,000 feet long. Vessels this size have carried almost 71,000 net tons of coal in a single trip, but that was when high water levels offset lack of adequate dredging. If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had maintained the Great Lakes Navigation System to project dimensions, Superior Midwest Energy Terminal would have reached its 400 millionth ton some time ago.”