Record traffic for U.S. Great Lakes

Record traffic for U.S. Great Lakes

Iron ore shipments are spurring a record year for U.S.-flag operators on the Great Lakes.

Shipments destined for U.S. and Canadian steel mills of the Great Lakes Basin in June fueled the highest monthly traffic in almost two years, the best six-month period since 2000, and well above the five-year average.

Data from the Lake Carriers Association in Cleveland also show that the increased traffic has boosted the number of major U.S.-flag fleet vessels on the Great Lakes to 59, five more than a year ago.

In June, U.S. lakers carried 12,074,561 net tons of dry-bulk cargo, the highest monthly total since August of 2002, helping the first-half total to 42,217,157 tons, up 12 percent from the same period a year ago, and 8.9 percent above the five-year average.

The largest increase in traffic was iron ore, which totalled 5.4 million tons in June, up 1 million tons from a year ago, although only a very slight increase over the five-year June average. Iron ore carried during the first half totalled 20,737,083 tons, highest since the 24.2 million tons of the 2000 period and up just over 1 million tons from the five-year six-month average.

Limestone shipments totalled 10.5 million tons for the first half of this year, 14.3 percent above the five-year average for the period and 28 percent above the period last year. Demand for metallurgical stone is strong and shipments of aggregate stone for the construction trade are "generally on the rebound," the group said.

Coal loads for the six months totalled 8.75 million tons, up from about 8 million tons in the previous period. Cement and grain loadings for the first six months were marginally up from the period last year, and salt and sand loadings considerably down.