Great Lakes May volumes decline
Limestone and coal shipments on the Great Lakes dropped in May compared to the previous year, according to the Lake Carriers' Association.
Waterborne volume for limestone fell 20 percent to 2.9 million tons versus a year ago and trailed the five-year average for the month by 28 percent. Year-to-date limestone trade is down 17 percent to 5.1 million tons, compared to the first five months in 2010, and down 28 percent compared to the five-year average for the same period. Shipments from U.S. quarries fell 14 percent in May, year-over-year, and are 26 percent off May's five-year average. Loadings at Canadian quarries slipped by almost 40 percent compared to a year ago and the month's five-year average.
Glenn Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association, attributed the decline to the weak construction market in the Great Lakes region. About 65 percent of the stone transported on the Great Lakes is aggregate for construction.
Great Lakes coal shipments fell 7.5 percent in May compared to the same month in 2010 and loadings were off 26.2 percent from the five-year average for the month.
Year-to-date, the coal trade stands at 6.5 million tons, a decrease of 3.2 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments are nearly 20 percent off the five-year average for the January-May timeframe.
Nekvasil said his members are hauling less coal because the Canadian province of Ontario is phasing out the use of coal in power plants by the end of 2014 and utilities have already begun to changeover to alternative sources of energy. ' Eric Kulisch