Tonnage increased by four per cent to 38.9 million tonnes during the 2012 navigation season,the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation said.
The figure marked a 300,000 tonne increase over original estimates, thanks in part to a late season surge in grain movements. Strong performance within a number of core markets contributed to an overall gain of 1.4 million tonnes for the year, when compared to the Seaway’s 2011 result of 37.5 million tonnes.
Demand for low sulphur coal in Europe led to a substantial increase in coal volumes, while busy Chinese steel mills triggered an upsurge in the demand for iron ore.
The shipments of coal and iron ore were brought to the Great Lakes and loaded on domestic laker vessels. The lakers then proceeded from the Great Lakes to the lower St. Lawrence River, where the commodities were trans-shipped to larger ocean vessels, for export to overseas destinations.
On the grain front, 2012 was a story of contrasts as strong Canadian grain movements offset a sharp drop in U.S. grain movements, due to the drought which impacted the majority of the U.S. grain belt.
“The Seaway was instrumental in providing grain shippers with the means to rapidly respond and capitalize on market opportunities late in the season”, said Terence Bowles, Seaway CEO.