From the opening of the season on March 22 to April 30, shipments via the St Lawrence Seaway totalled four million tonnes, a 3.7 per cent increase from the same period in 2020.
'Marine shipping is a bellwether for what's happening in the wider economy. These first numbers of the Great Lakes-Seaway shipping season, particularly the increased demand for construction and steel-making materials, are a positive sign that the US and Canadian economies continue to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic,' said Chamber of Marine Commerce CEO Bruce Burrows.
Construction materials boosted shipments of dry bulk cargoes via the Seaway 1.6 per cent during the beginning of the 2020 season. General cargo shipments increased 23.2 per cent in April, with iron and steel cargo increasing 58 per cent.
Grain was up 10 per cent in April, while the Port of Duluth-Superior floated 4.2 million short tons of cargo through April 30, a 48 per cent increase.
'It's been a very good start to what we expect will be a bounce-back season for the Port of Duluth-Superior after the Covid-induced lows of 2020,' said Duluth Seaway executive director Deb DeLuca.
'Along with total tonnage, our vessel count is also up dramatically, and we're certainly hoping that trend continues throughout the season. It's encouraging to see the high level of activity in our harbor and throughout the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Seaway System,' said Ms Deluca.
Said Toledo-Lucas County port authority vice president Joseph Cappel. 'We've already handled over one million tons of iron ore which is a good indication that steel demand will be strong in 2021.
'We are excited about the 2021 shipping season for several reasons. The Cleveland Cliffs hot briquetted iron facility will be in full production this year which will drive substantial vessel activity at the Ironville terminal,' said Mr Cappel.
'Also, our new massive Liebherr 550 mobile harbour crane recently arrived and is being assembled giving us additional capabilities for bulk and project cargo handling. We are also rebuilding the dock wall at Midwest Terminals and making improvements at the Toledo Shipyard. We've been looking forward to these milestones for some time and are excited that the projects are coming to fruition.' said Mr Cappel.