Total cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the end of April are up by 8 per cent to 3.7 million tonnes this spring, primarily due to a 70 per cent increase in iron ore exports.

“It’s still very early in the season, but the shipping season is off to a solid start. Iron ore pellet exports to Japan and China that started in the fourth quarter of last year have continued this spring and Great Lakes ports and vessels are also busy shipping out a large carry-over of Canadian grain for export,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

Canadian domestic carriers are loading U.S. iron ore pellets at Minnesota ports/docks to ship via the Seaway to the Port of Quebec, where it is then transferred to larger ocean-going vessels for onward transport to Asia.

“Not only have we seen strong performances in major commodities like iron ore and grain, but also road salt volumes are up as municipal stockpiles are now being replenished following the return to more normal winter conditions across much of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. Our full fleet is being utilized and we’re optimistic that 2017 will be a much better year for domestic shipping,” said Wayne Smith, Senior Vice-President, Commercial for St. Catharines-based Algoma Central Corporation.

David Cree, President and CEO of Windsor Port Authority, said: “It’s been a good start to the season overall in Windsor with salt shipments up 27 per cent over the same period last year. Shipments of Ontario grain for export, which are predominantly soybeans from the fall harvest, are also up 50 per cent.”

Overall cargo tonnage at Port of Hamilton is also up 8 per cent, reflecting strength in the Ontario economy generally. Finished steel, used in construction and automotive, is trending 21 per cent higher at the port than this point last season. Other construction-related materials are also showing strong results, such as aggregates, where 2017 tonnages are exceeding 2016 levels by more than 50 per cent. Exports of grains at the port including Ontario-grown soybeans and corn are trending 67 per cent higher than the same period in 2016, due in part to solid international demand for Canadian product.

Ian Hamilton, President and CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority, said: “These are very early season results, but they are certainly promising. The Port of Hamilton is highly integrated in the southern Ontario economy, so our good news is an indication of a vibrant economy in the province.”