As of April 30, on a year-to-date basis, both Great Lakes traffic and Seaway traffic showed modest gains compared to the previous year. The 17 American companies that belong to the Lake Carriers’ Association reported year-to-date tonnage gains of 3.6 per cent, to 14.6 million tonnes. Strong gains were recorded in the carriage of iron ore (6.1 per cent), limestone (20.7 per cent), and cement (33.8 per cent). Coal suffered the most important loss (-21.8 per cent). The decrease was primarily the result of a continuation of a late 2011 trend that has seen lower production and consumption of coal for power generation. Demand for coal for power generation was down because of high stockpile levels of coal, mild weather and strong competition from natural gas. Declines in consumption of coal were partially offset by increases in export volumes.

Seaway tonnage was up 2.2 per cent from year-ago levels, from 4.3 million tonnes to 4.4 million tonnes. Coal was the largest gainer (40.3 per cent), with dry bulk coming in second (15.1 per cent). Iron ore was up by 8.2 per cent. Grain volumes were down by 9.4 per cent.

The data appear to support the consensus opinion that North American economies are continuing their economic recoveries, albeit at a modest pace.