North American steel and construction demand, along with international iron ore and coal traffic, boosted volume on the St. Lawrence Seaway by 5 percent year-over-year in May.
The international seaway between March 22 and May 31 handled 8.9 million metric tons of freight, up 3.7 percent from the same period a year ago. A rise in international vessels delivering wind turbine components to the Midwest and western Canada also increased volume. More turbine deliveries are expected as shippers take advantage of the clean energy tax credit before it expires at the end of the year.
“Seaway tonnage increases this year continue to nudge upward to 5 percent overall when compared to the same time frame last year. Double-digit figures were noted in coal and iron ore, and general cargo is up almost 7 percent,” said Rebecca Spruill, director of trade development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.
Iron ore traffic jumped 41 percent in May from the same period a year ago, and bulk material, including pig iron, stone and cement, rose 8 percent in the same period. Coal shipments for power generation and steel production rose 31 percent year-over-year in May, and salt volumes increased 37 percent in the same period, as North American cities replenished their road salt reserves. Grain volume, however, fell 22 percent year-over-year.
The SLDC expects volume to increase 3 percent year-over-year this shipping season, after volume rose 2.7 percent in 2011 from the prior year.