Container throughput in 2011 at the Port of Prince Rupert jumped 20 percent year-over-year, while the emerging gateway's larger West Coast rival, Port Metro Vancouver, saw flat traffic in the same period.
A 20 percent increase in loaded imports, mostly from China, pushed up Prince Rupert's annual container traffic to 410,366 20-foot equivalent units. Export container traffic surged 59 percent on strong Chinese demand for lumber and other wood products.
Two-thirds of the 233,146 loaded import containers in 2011 went to the U.S. Midwest and the rest to Canada, port authority spokesman Michael Gurney said.
Container traffic at Vancouver was flat, matching 2010's record 2.5 million TEUs. Containerized imports rose 17 percent, offsetting a slight dip in exports.
Total cargo tonnage in 2011 grew 3.4 percent year-over-year to 112.5 million metric tons, with Asian exports and imports contributing about 78 percent of the annual traffic.
China’s demand was also seen in bulk volumes setting records, with coal shipments up 7.8 percent and thermal coal traffic up 46 percent. Potash shipments jumped 30 percent to a record 7.2 million tons.
Although breakbulk cargo was down 4.4 percent overall, breakbulk lumber export traffic rose 107 percent. Breakbulk imports increased 30 percent on “Canadian demand for foreign steel and construction materials,” the port authority said.
Automobile volumes were down 22 percent because of supply chain disruptions caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but the port authority expects a rebound this year.
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