November: Less bad for U.S.-flag Lakers
The Lake Carriers' Association said that through November, U.S.-flag ships on the Great Lakes carried 60.4 million tons, a decrease of 36.6 percent compared to 2008, and 38.4 percent off the five-year average for the January-November timeframe.
However, the group noted the U.S. Great Lakes fleet hauled more than 9 million net tons of dry-bulk cargo in November. That's the first month this year that cargoes totaled more than 9 million tons in a single month, the group said.
The 3.6 million tons of iron ore hauled in November are the fleet's best total for that commodity so far this year and reflect rising demand for steel.
Limestone loads reached their second-best month of the year in November, but were off for the year. U.S. and Canadian ports shipped 23.5 million net tons of limestone in 2009, 27.4 percent less than the prior year. That is the lowest total since the recession year of 1984 when shipments totaled only 23,156,860 tons, the Lake Carriers' Association noted.
A major portion of the limestone shipped on the Great Lakes is aggregate for the construction industry. Efforts to stimulate the economy have yet to translate into aggregate-intensive projects, the group said.
Quarries using Great Lakes transportation also supply U.S. and Canadian steelmakers with fluxstone, which is used as a purifying agent in the steelmaking process. Although some blast furnaces have been restarted, the industry is still operating at about 65 percent of its capacity.
The last stone cargo of the year was loaded on December 16, an early close for that trade.
Coal loadings were down 16 percent compared to a year ago, primarily because of a slowdown in shipments of western coal out of Superior, Wis.