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BusinessRail

Strike on Tuesday looms for Canadian National after Teamsters sends notice to company

Talks are ongoing but there is now a strike notice overhanging Canadian National and its 3,200 Teamsters members.

Both the company and the union announced late Saturday that the Teamsters had served a strike notice to CN. The  strike would occur just after the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, November 19. 

In its prepared statement, CN quoted COO and executive vice president Rob Reilly as saying the railroad had offered binding arbitration to the union but it had declined. “If a settlement cannot be reached this weekend, we will once again encourage the union leadership to accept binding arbitration as an alternative to disrupting the Canadian economy,” Reilly said, according to the statement. “We remain committed to constructive talks to reach an agreement without a work stoppage.”

Among the other accusations lobbed at the railroad by the union, the Teamsters said CN “wants to make it more difficult to take time off and make employees work longer hours.” The goal, the union said, is “an attempt to get more work done with fewer people and to reduce staffing levels.” 

Complaints of too-tight personnel numbers have been levied against several railroads in the last year or more, and not just by unions. It has been fueled to a large degree by the class 1 railroads’ embrace of precision railroading. One of the key pillars of PSR is reduced employee numbers.

Teamsters President Lyndon Isaak did not mention PSR in his prepared statement. But it wasn’t hard to think PSR when reading his quote: “This obsession with profits and shareholder return, at the expense of just about everything else, is exactly what is wrong with our economy.”

In CN’s recent third quarter results, the company reported a 4% increase in revenue from the third quarter of 2018, an increase in diluted earnings per share of 8%, an increase in operating income also of 8% and a strong operating ratio of 57.9%.

The union statement also made clear that it is not interested in binding arbitration. “Rather than reaching an agreement at the bargaining table, CN is intent on submitting these issues and more to binding arbitration,” the Teamsters statement said. “By resolving its differences with the union through arbitration, the company hopes to achieve gains that could not have otherwise been made by negotiating in good faith.”

The union said negotiations have been ongoing for seven months. A Canadian government mediator has been involved for the last five. 

The union statement was far more specific than the company release, with more details about either what the railroad was seeking or the current conditions that the Teamsters are looking to change. The strike notice comes just days after reports that CN was planning on layoffs of up to 1,600 workers though it was unclear how many of those were members of the Teamsters. 

“CN currently requires (Teamsters) members to operate trains alone from outside of the locomotive, hanging on to moving trains with one hand while operating a remotely controlled locomotive with the other,” the union said in its statement. “Railroaders are expected to do this in rain and in freezing temperatures, sometimes for distances of up to about 17 miles.”

The union and company are also in a standoff over lifetime pharmaceutical benefits, according to the union.

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

19 Comments

  1. Quote:

    “The union said negotiations have been ongoing for seven months. A Canadian government mediator has been involved for the last five.  ”

    “The strike notice comes just days after reports that CN was planning on layoffs of up to 1,600 workers though it was unclear how many of those were members of the Teamsters. ”

    From my perspective CN is clearly not negotiating in good faith and has forced the Union into a strike through what appears to be an intimidation tactic by announcing a whopping layoff of up to 1600 workers during negotiations , due to the Union not accepting the CN Binding Arbitration condition .

    I believe CN has greatly mismanaged the “dispute” and thus engendered exactly what they intended on avoiding, ” a work stoppage” .

    Way to go CN ! NOT !

    Shareholders should demand/vote for a change in management .

    In my humble opinion ………

    1. The reason for the headcount reduction is that CN’s traffic has really slowed the last few weeks. Revenue ton-miles in the fourth quarter so far are down 11% from last year and revenue ton-miles are down 12%-13% y/y in the last couple weeks, far worse than we have seen earlier in this year when CN’s traffic was holding up better than the U.S. railroads. Crop harvesting is being delayed due to an early onset of winter, among other issues. The headcount reduction of 1,600 needs to be put in context of the 27,290 employees at the end of October, so is just under a 6% reduction and was clear that the headcount reductions are not all unionized employees, they include management as well.

      1. Thanks for your input . However, I’m not disputing the “fundamental” reason(s) for the curtailment in laborers due to the curtailment in shipments . I’m disputing the “timing” of the laborer curtailment .

        In regards to shipping curtailment the writing was on the wall . Therefore this is no surprise in the current economic environment , and CN management should have ,and most likely did , anticipate it . And if they didn’t , then that would be an even bigger reason why there should be a shareholder vote for a change in management . That being said , until their stock price takes a dive , shareholders will remain satisfied . I predict that a CN share price “debacle” isn’t too far away .

        I repeat , from my perspective CN forced the Union’s hand into a strike and in doing so engendered the opposite of what CN was aiming to prevent ,” a work stoppage” . A “work stoppage” will surely have a wider negative effect on their bottom line than simply negotiating and making a few compromises in good faith .

        In conclusion : Management lack of good judgement not only will cause labor curtailment but a strike as well . And based on those facts , once the share price takes a dive , shareholders will start to make noise .

        Bookmark this comment . I’m making a “humble” wager that there will be a change in management once my “CN stock major share price decline call ” materializes .

        In my humble opinion .

      2. Mike, I am an engineer for CSX! What you’re saying is that it’s ok for railroaders to spend more time away than at home? What you’re saying is that I have to watch my son, a conductor, move all over the state to follow work and rarely see his three year old daughter? What you’re saying is PSR is a good thing for anyone but the stockholders? The railroad is an unforgiving job and when we make a mistake, someone usually dies! What your saying is that someone dying because they just came off 18+ hours on duty, see their family for the first time in days, and get called back out to work in 12 hours when they just went to bed three hours ago because the train lineup looked like they would be home for a lot longer! All because the company decided to put trains that are not normally in their lineup in it to do more with less and that conductor loses his grip on the side of the car and falls to his/her death! All because of trying to do more with less!! Let me get this straight, is that what you’re saying??

        1. Reread his reply .

          He’s simply attempting to justify CN’s labor curtailment , not the CN curtailment of human rights .

          That being said , perhaps the CN CEO should step in and rectify the “derailment” his management team caused in the mismanaged negotiations with the Union .

          The CEO’s management subordinates “failed” and caused a work stoppage in the process . This should get the CEO’s attention for sure .

          The CEO should step down from his throne and take the helm in this matter . This is an opportunity for the CEO to show what “leadership” is all about . When your subordinates fail , you step in . You don’t direct them to act differently , you step in . You take the lead and make things right . This would also increase shareholder confidence .

          Now the corporation is broken . If the workers go on strike and the CEO doesn’t rectify the work stoppage , then the CEO has failed as the captain .

          His crew already failed otherwise the union wouldn’t have called for a strike ! So in order to save face he should step in . As far as I’m concerned the CEO should have been on the ball and realized that his subordinates in the matter were failing a long time ago . Therefore the CEO should have stepped in before the matter ended up at this point . What an embarrassment his team caused him .

          Hopefully some of those positions in management that are supposedly going to be curtailed are those who were CHOSEN to be in charge of such negotiations .

          Now let’s watch how and or if the “CHOOSER”(CEO) will act .

          Mainstream media is watching . CN is in the public eye .

          If I were the CEO , I would definitely step in and take the lead in this matter . I would apologize for the mistake I made in choosing the one’s I did to handle this matter , and explain that when I make a mistake I step in to rectify it , and the reason for which I’m taking the lead in this matter is to assure our employees and shareholders that they are our greatest asset and priority here at CN .

          In my humble opinion

  2. I’m not here to bash CN management .

    However , just to point out another ill timed decision on their part was when they “decided” the acquire TransX . The timing couldn’t be any worse . Had they sat a little longer they could have more than likely obtained it for a much lower price rather than acquiring it the cyclical “peak” .

    A portion of those savings could have went towards favoring laborers .

    In my humble opinion ………..


  3. Mr. Baudendistel
    According to an article posted on Freightwaves on September 23 2019 titled :
    “FreightWaves deepens bench, hires top equities analyst”

    Which states :

    Quote:
    “Mike Baudendistel, a 13-year equities analyst with deep expertise in rail, intermodal, Jones Act and transportation OEMs, joins FreightWaves as a market expert. 
    Prior to joining FreightWaves, Baudendistel was on the equities research team at Stifel, covering railroads, rail equipment, and truck equipment. His experience also touched the barge, intermodal, and truckload sectors. Prior to Stifel, Baudendistel served as an investment banking associate for Crowe Capital in Chicago. He is a CFA charterholder.”

    Would you mind sharing your ” equity analyst expertise ” as to where you see CN’s share price in the next 6 months ?

    Thanks !

    ……

  4. Furthermore , I went to see what the Teamsters are saying directly on their website . I have to admit , they have a strong argument .

    I’ll quote it here :

    “Fighting for Rail Safety, Teamsters Serve Strike Notice to CN

    November 16, 2019 13:13 ET | Source: Teamsters Canada

    Montréal, Nov. 16, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Given a lack of progress at the bargaining table, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) last night served notice of intent to strike to Canadian National Railway (CN). The union hopes to reach a negotiated settlement that its members can ratify, and to move forward without a service disruption. 

    In the event that parties are unable to reach a negotiated settlement, over 3,000 conductors, trainpersons and yard workers will exercise their legal right to strike on Tuesday, November 19 at 0:01 a.m. ET. 

    Rail safety and prescription drug benefits

    CN currently requires TCRC members to operate trains alone from outside of the locomotive, hanging on to moving trains with one hand while operating a remotely controlled locomotive with the other. Railroaders are expected to do this in rain and in freezing temperatures, sometimes for distances of up to about 17 miles. 

    The union’s demands to cease these dangerous practices have fallen on deaf ears and the company has refused to come to a satisfactory agreement at the negotiations table to adjust their operating practices in the interest of safety. 

    The company also wants to make it more difficult to take time off and make employees work longer hours, in an attempt to get more work done with fewer people and to reduce staffing levels. 

    “Fatigue has been recognized by the Transportation Safety Board as a major safety problem in this industry. Too many railroaders are operating trains when they should be resting,” explained the president of the TCRC, Lyndon Isaak. “For the safety of all Canadians, we cannot allow CN to make it even harder for our members to get the rest they need.”

    Moreover, CN is demanding that the union accept a lifetime cap on prescription drug coverage which would be tantamount to denying workers – and their families – proper treatment for some forms of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases.   

    Wages are not a major sticking point in these negotiations. 

    Arbitration does not work for workers

    Rather than reaching an agreement at the bargaining table, CN is intent on submitting these issues and more to binding arbitration. By resolving its differences with the union through arbitration, the company hopes to achieve gains that could not have otherwise been made by negotiating in good faith. 

    “CN is telling our members that they are facing tough times, but the reality is that they made over $3.8 billion in the third quarter of 2019. They should be ashamed to be pleading poverty,” added Lyndon Isaak. “This obsession with profits and shareholder return, at the expense of just about everything else, is exactly what is wrong with our economy.”

    The union and the company have been in negotiations for seven months and have been working with federal mediators for the past five. In September, workers voted 99.2% in favour of strike action. The previous collective agreement expired on July 23, 2019.

    A work stoppage would bring CN’s operations to a halt but would not affect public transportation.

    Talks with the company are ongoing in Montréal.

    Teamsters represent 125,000 members in Canada in all industries, including 16,000 workers in the rail industry. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America. ”

    End quote …….

    Now how can any reasonable person not agree with the points the Teamsters are making ??? And I’m not even a pro union person per se !!! In this case according to what the Teamsters are claiming in regards to SAFETY and a lack of laborer care , I side with them 100% without question and I’m sticking by my conclusion based upon MY analysis . CN is not acting in good faith . Safety shouldn’t even be up for debate !

    In the trucking industry lack of “safety” has been one of the biggest issues and the industry is being bombarded with regulations due to major safety mishaps that have claimed lives .

    What is CN waiting for ??? Accidents and or deaths before they “listen” and create reasonable safety changes ??? It’s always better to be prudent and prevent rather than to neglect and regret .

    Rail is like trucking , the general public and government are unaware unless a major disaster occurs . Why oh why does it take a preventable disaster to occur for people to wake up , reason , and act responsibly ???

    The Teamsters should have walked out 7 months ago . Laborer / member safety should never be jeopardized , never . It’s not something you negotiate , period !

    Better yet , the government should crack down on rail just as hard as it is on trucking .

    In my humble opinion …………

  5. FreightWaves doesn’t establish or publish target prices on stocks; it’s just not a part of the FW business model so I don’t do that in my current role. I don’t miss it as getting target prices even directionally right is harder than it looks. You’ll have to go to one of the 25 or so brokerage firms that cover CN for that; the list of brokers is on their investor relations site. Take care and good luck with the short call!

    1. Quote:

      “Is CN Rail (TSX:CNR) Stock in Trouble?

      “Should investors be concerned?

      Even though CN Rail didn’t have a bad quarter in Q3, there are clearly many warning signs ahead for investors that shouldn’t be ignored. Railway operators are dependent on the strength of the economy, and if CN Rail is already starting to see signs of weakness, it could be an indication that a slowdown could be happening sooner rather than later. And if that’s the case, investors may want to consider selling their shares of CN Rail.

      Heading into its earnings release, the stock was trading at 19 times earnings and more than four times its book value. Those are some relatively high multiples given that the company isn’t generating a lot of growth. Through the first nine months of the year, CN Rail’s stock had rallied more than 18%. However, a correction could be in store for the stock in light of its outlook for the next several months.

      Bottom line
      Without a strong economy, there may be little reason to buy shares of CN Rail today. The stock is a little pricey, and with a dividend yield of just 1.8%, it’s not that attractive an option for dividend investors, either.”

      End quote .

      Stay tuned !
      LOL ! (wink)

      In my humble opinion …………

  6. Let’s go down memory lane due to the appearance of a “deja vu” .

    In May 2018 the Teamsters were in a dispute with CP . Government was getting pressured by Agriculture & Mining shippers . Government said they wouldn’t meddle , and the government in office in Canada today is the same as the one in 2018 . In conclusion a day after the Teamsters strike began an agreement was achieved between both parties .

    Now we’re dealing with CN . If we go back to 2015, CN had a disagreement with another labor union , Unifor . And CN threatened Unifor with a lock out unless the union agreed to a binding arbitration to settle contract differences . And once again they came to an agreement once CN realized the government wasn’t going to interfere and had to negotiate with Unifor . And I quote:

    “This settlement forecloses the prospect of a potential labour disruption that would have harmed CN’s employees, its customers and the Canadian economy.” ……….

    Now let’s take a little look at a part of CN’s latest earnings released on October 22 2019.

    Quote:
    “Revenue from the petroleum and chemicals segment, which also includes its crude-by-rail shipments, rose 18% to C$788 million with crude revenue up 34%. ”

    Wow crude by rail shipment revenue increased 34% ! LOL(wink)

    However , management proceeded to say :

    Quote CN DOUBT :
    “However, the company cautioned that with the delay in government contracts and ramp up in crude shipments, it does not expect to see the same level of crude shipments in the fourth quarter compared to the year ago.
    “We’re going to be slightly down, I think, in crude-by-rail volume going Q3 and Q4 unless something changes,” said a senior company executive James Cairns. ”

    However , on October 31 2019 this article was released .

    “Alberta will let producers hike oil output if companies add rail shipments”

    “Following months of discussions, the Alberta government will allow petroleum producers to increase their oil output levels above current provincial quotas, under certain conditions.
    But to do that, producers would have to incrementally ramp up the amount of oil they’re moving out of the province by rail.”

    And ,

    “Oil companies ready to pounce on extra rail cars to ramp up production”

    “Oil companies say they’re already rounding up rail cars in response to news the Alberta government will allow some producers to exceed a mandatory production cap if they can move their oil by train.
    “This is a very significant development for the industry and the province, and sets the stage for the government to remove itself from the Alberta crude markets,” Suncor CEO Mark Little told investors on a Thursday morning conference call.

    Suncor will take advantage of these new special limits, Little said, and has contracted rail cars to ship another 30,000 barrels per day, likely within the next month or two.

    Little said the program is an incentive for companies to buy up oil-by-rail contracts the United Conservative Party government is trying to divest.”

    End quote.

    So the last thing CN needs is a “work stoppage” especially with the increased “CHANGE” in crude shipment by rail carrot dangling !

    Re-quote October 22 2019 CN DOUBT :

    “We’re going to be slightly down, I think, in crude-by-rail volume going Q3 and Q4 unless something changes,” said a senior company executive James Cairns. ”

    From my perspective that “change” has come forth .

    In regards to the 2015 “deja vu” rather than CN threatening the union with a lock out , the Teamsters pulled the trigger with a strike announcement to begin on Tuesday November 20 2019 , and technically the CN stock pattern currently appears to resemble the pattern that was created in autumn of the year 2014 , and currently it appears to be precisely at a point within the pattern that resembles late November 2014 .

    You can check out :
    “Suncor, MEG, Cenovus eye more oil shipments as Alberta offers crude-by-rail incentive ”

    Stay tuned , exciting times are upon us to say the least .

    In my humble opinion .

    P.S

    For your entertainment :

    Quote : October 31 2019

    “Suncor Energy Third Quarter 2019 Financial Results Call

    Emily Chieng: Great. Thank you. And just one follow-up, please, on the crude by rail announcement this morning. Does this change the way you guys think about using rail as a means of crude export to increase production or is it still really an economic decision here?

    Mark Little: Well, the economic decision we’re faced with is really around should we leave crude shut in or should we produce that and ship it to market by rail. So when you compare those two options, it’s economic which is the whole point of this is that although, the – this natural spread in the market place might not say that rail’s economic, you’re considering that against whether you should – it assumes that you’re already producing the barrel. And so, the opportunity here and the whole design of the program is, to allow us to produce above our quotas, if we can move the volume up.

    So we’re comparing, we either leave it shut in the ground or remove it by rail. I think this is a very positive development because the whole purpose of curtailment was to reduce production to align with the takeaway capacity. But I think we all know that ever since that was implemented the takeaway capacity in Western Canada has declined, which is the exact opposite of what you want to have happen when you have excess production. But the design of this system is to incent operators like ourselves and the 16 others or the 16 in total that are curtailed to go get rail, increase the takeaway capacity from the entire basin, so that we can access markets.

    And then once the industry is demonstrated that all the productions on and we can move at all and we have all of the takeaway capacity. The government then has the ability to leave the markets. And when everybody has all their production flowing then they’re incented to invest to grow their production, right now nobody and none of those 16 companies are incented because if they grow production they’re just going to leave it shut in. So the whole design of the program is to try and help get the markets going. Allow us to get full value, increase royalties and taxes for the provinces, allow the companies to demonstrate that with market forces we can clear the market.

    And when everybody has all their production flowing, then they’re incented to invest to grow their production. Right now nobody, none of those 16 companies are incented because if they grow production, they’re just going to leave it shut in. So the whole design of the program is to try and help get the markets going; allow us to get full value; increase royalties and taxes for the provinces; allow that companies to demonstrate that with market forces we can clear the market. And on top of this development, there’s about 200,000 barrels a day of increased pipeline capacity that’s coming to market early next year through the work that’s happening on Line 3, on the Canadian portion of Line 3, Keystone and Express.

    So when you look at the incremental rail capacity, which we think is somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day of additional rail that could be brought to market and another 200,000 barrels a day of pipe, this is super positive for the industry to move forward. And hopefully we’ll get some investment going. So that’s why we’re very thankful for the leadership that the premier and the energy minister have put to this.

    Emily Chieng: Great. Thank you.

    Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Dennis Fong of Canaccord Genuity. Your line is open.

    Dennis Fong (Canaccord): Hi. Good morning and thanks for taking my question. Just maybe is a bit of a follow on to Emily’s question. The thought process for me is that you guys don’t necessarily trend toward very much crude oil by rail, but do have a fairly robust rail operation more geared frankly to the refined products side. With respect to your current obviously or fairly little exposure to the crude oil transportation side, how should I be thinking about your maybe strategy or approach to potentially gaining incremental capacity via maybe some of your peers if they have available capacity to ramp up production by their railroad curtailments quota?

    Mark Little: Yeah. Dennis, thanks for the question. And that was certainly a message in my response to Emily. So I think as we’ve stated many many times prior to this we were moving all of our production by pipe, but clearly with the government intervention we’re not able to do that. So we will be taking advantage of this development and curtailment relief that’s been put out by the Alberta government this morning. And in anticipation of
    that and our long-standing relationship in the rail markets and working with the railways, we actually have direct contracted capacity of 30,000 barrels a day with the rails to move crude by rail and we will plan to be getting that operational in the next month or two. I haven’t talked to the folks this morning about how long it will take but I think it will take a couple of months plus or minus. And so we plan on taking advantage of this for sure to get our production moving.

    Dennis Fong: Okay. Perfect. And I suppose the other — I guess the other side of it would be it’s given that there are other producers that may be producing and have maybe access rail capacity that could probably also mean that they have incremental credits that they could potentially sell for you as well?

    Mark Little: Yeah. The design of the system is to allow the market to actually solve this, so clearly people that are sitting with rail without the production are incented to find people with production to move it by rail. And it also incents producers to go get rail contracts and such. And I think you’ll see that this is significant in the Alberta government getting rid of its rail contracts because if people sign up for them they want to be able to use the rail and so all of these pieces are tied together.

  7. Unifor also expressed their point of view on the matter .

    Quote:

    Unifor
    Nov 17, 2019, 08:55 ET
    Share this article

    “CN layoff announcements put profits over safe container rail service

    TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2019 /CNW/ – Unifor condemns CN’s layoff speculation at a time of high revenue.   
    “What we have here is a massively profitable corporation causing anxiety through public layoff announcements that, if realized, could seriously threaten working conditions and health and safety of rail workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
    Members of Unifor Council 4000 and Local 100 have received layoff notices over the past two months that add up to the reduction of just over 200 jobs.

    Unifor members at CN inspect, repair and maintain rail cars, as well as perform essential work operating equipment to load containers.

    “Targeting safety-sensitive labour costs in order to squeeze out a slightly higher profit margin is the wrong move. Some cuts are not worth the risk,” said Renaud Gagne, Unifor Quebec Director.
    In the company’s own third quarter report, CN announced C$3,830 million in revenue, an improved operating ratio, and an eight per cent increase in operating income, to C$1,613 million.

    “CN has not fallen on hard times, but the company still chose to cast uncertainty into the homes of loyal employees in order to signal to wealthy investors that higher dividends are coming down the pipe,” continued Dias.
    The union remains in communication with the company to advocate for all members, and to negate the damaging effects of these unnecessary cuts.

    Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.”

    SOURCE Unifor

  8. November 14 2019

    CN, Thunder Bay report strong cargo numbers

    Quote:
    ” Canada’s largest railway company says it moved a record amount of western Canadian grain in October.
    In a news release issued Nov. 5, Canadian National Railway said it moved 2.8 million tonnes of western Canadian grain and grain products, an all-time record for a single month.

    CN’s previous monthly record, set in April 2019, was 2.7 million tonnes.

    CN’s total grain movements through the first three months of the 2019-20 crop year (Aug. 1 to Oct. 31) now stand at 6.7 million tonnes, a good result considering that cold, wet harvest weather has delayed the pace of grain deliveries, leaving rail capacity significantly under-used, CN said.

    “We are all part of the same supply chain, and as a railway CN fully understands the impacts that weather can have on the end-to-end supply chain,” said Allen Foster, vice-president of bulk at CN.

    “Investment at every step of the supply chain – from producers and grain companies to CN’s investment in new hopper cars, increased network capacity, and a more modern locomotive fleet — all played a role in delivering a record month.”
    The Port of Thunder Bay in Ontario also announced steady export volumes through grain export terminals on the north shore of Lake Superior.

    In a Nov. 6 news release, the port authority said grain volumes held steady in October, maintaining a seasonal increase over last year.

    Port officials cited an increase in canola shipments to international ports.
    “At just under half a million metric tonnes, direct exports of (Canadian) canola from Thunder Bay by foreign-flagged saltie vessels are at an all-time high,” the port authority said.
    The bulk of the canola exported through Thunder Bay is grown in Manitoba.

    The first week of November has remained busy, particularly for ocean vessels departing the port with grain, the port authority added.

    “Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has been projecting a strong fall harvest, however there is some uncertainty for the final two months of the shipping season as poor weather has led to harvesting delays and some crop downgrading on the Prairies,” is said.
    Overall, the Port of Thunder Bay is reporting above-average cargo tonnage as of Oct. 31. Port terminals have handled 6.9 million tonnes of cargo so far this season — about 10 percent higher than last year and five percent higher than the port’s five-year average.

    Coal and potash movements were particularly strong.
    Coal and potash shipments for the month of October were twice and three times the normal levels, respectively, the port authority said.

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