Great Lakes ore, stone volumes æplungeÆ
With a majority of the nation’s blast furnaces idled, the iron ore trade on the Great Lakes took what the Lake Carriers Association called “one of its biggest plunges in surely what are decades.
'Shipments totaled only 3.1 million net tons, a decrease of 42 percent compared to a year ago.”
The comparison with the month’s five-year average was even worse: Shipments were down nearly 50 percent. Due to very strong demand for iron ore until just a couple months ago, for the year the trade increased 1.1 million tons over 2007. Shipments also outperformed the trade’s five-year average by 400,000 tons.
The group said the January iron ore float 'will continue the trend of the past couple months. Only 26 U.S.-flag lakers were in service on the first of this year, a decrease of 35 hulls compared to Jan. 1, 2008. Furthermore, a number of the vessels that were in service as this year began were on their final voyage or voyages of the year.”
Last week the group said lakes limestone trade totaled only 528,821 net tons in December, about a quarter of what they were in December 2007. When the economy is strong, one large quarry will ship that much stone in two weeks.
The association called on Congress and the new Obama administration to “jump start the economy with shovel-ready projects such as the second Poe-sized lock,” which connects Lake Superior with the lower lakes. Twinning the Poe Lock will require more than 1.1 million tons of stone, it noted.