August proved to be a strong month for Great Lakes-Seaway shipping led by grain exports, iron ore, road salt and construction materials. However, despite the busy August, St. Lawrence Seaway cargo tonnage from March 22 to August 31 totaled 20.9 million tonnes, down 3.5 per cent from last year.

“For the most part, Canadian grain volumes have been in line with 2018 and we expect that trend will continue in the fall as the new harvests come to market while iron ore exports should remain strong,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “The Seaway is also attracting more international salt imports – cargo that in the past typically came through the Gulf Coast. This business has helped offset decreases in steel imports, which have been crimped by the imposition of tariffs”.

August was a big month for dry bulk shipments, including salt and stone. For the year, dry bulk is up 12 per cent compared to 2018, while salt shipments are up 23.7 per cent as cities and towns replenish in preparation for the coming winter.

Canadian grain shipments via the Seaway for the season totaled 4.3 million metric tonnes, down just 1.9 per cent from 2018.  Prairie canola has been the star performer with exports via the Port of Thunder Bay to Europe and Latin America surging by 85 per cent this season.  There is more stock available due to China not buying canola from Canada and there is more demand after the European canola crop was much smaller this year. Overall, the port of Thunder Bay’s year-to-date grain tonnage totals just under 4 million tonnes, up 9 per cent over 2018 levels.

“Grain is up once again, owing to increased direct exports via saltie (ocean-going vessel) to Europe, North Africa and Latin America,” says Chris Heikkinen of Thunder Bay Port Authority.

Hamilton’s year-to-date agricultural cargo of 1.34 million tonnes is 10 per cent lower than this time last year, but roughly 48 per cent above the average from the past five years.

Ian Hamilton, President and CEO of Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA), is optimistic about the outlook for both locations for the remainder of 2019 and beyond. “As a merged entity, we can better market ourselves and Southern Ontario as an investment location for transportation-intensive industries, with increased capacity and logistics options,” says Hamilton.

In August, HOPA announced a $16 million export expansion project at the Port of Hamilton’s Pier 10 to increase shipping and manufacturing capacity for agri-food tenants, and for the first time a state-of-the-art grain terminal is being built in Oshawa. The new terminal will accommodate agricultural storage and shipping in an important farming region.

Burlington-based ship operator McKeil Marine also reported a busy August for shipments of aggregates (more than 106,000 tonnes), cement (nearly 70,000 tonnes) and grain (roughly 66,500 tonnes.) Aggregates include stone, slag, gypsum and other products used in the production of cement.