RISE IN CARGO AT PORT OF VANCOUVER POINTS TO RECORD TONNAGE IN '95

RISE IN CARGO AT PORT OF VANCOUVER POINTS TO RECORD TONNAGE IN '95

The Port of Vancouver, British Columbia, reported strong first-half gains in container and bulk cargo tonnage, with total volume up 23 percent. It is on pace to set a tonnage record.

Canada's largest port handled 37.9 million tons through the end of June, compared with 30.9 tons during the first half of 1994. The increase occurred despite a three-day strike by longshoremen in February that shut down the entire port. The strike ended only when the government ordered the union to return to work.The statistics "point to a strong gain in many Canadian product sectors, and the continued positive impact of a relatively low Canadian dollar combined with aggressive marketing by shippers and terminal operators," Norman Stark, president of the Vancouver Port Corp., said in a statement.

Container tonnage increased 21 percent to 2.3 million tons. The port said the increase was driven by jumps in containerized exports, especially forest products and specialty grains.

Non-containerized forest products volumes grew slightly, to 3.33 million tons. Pulp and paper volumes were higher; wood chip exports were lower because of more domestic consumption.

At 7 million tons, grain matched last year's levels. "Grain prices are high, particularly for wheat, and it has been profitable for farmers to hang on to their grain as prices have risen and forgo the transportation subsidy that was available till Aug. 1," the port said.

Other bulk sectors posted increases. Coal surged 32 percent to 13.3 million tons, fueled by increased demand for metallurgical coal in Pacific Rim markets.

Potash shipments rose 26 percent to nearly 3 million tons, helped along by large shipments to China this year.

Sulfur shipments were 2.4 million tons, 50 percent higher than last year.

Ron Longstaffe, chairman of the port corporation, said second-half volumes ''are expected to be somewhat lower," but the port this year still is likely to surpass its 1991 annual record of 70.7 million.