On a year-to-date basis, total cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway have now surpassed 2013 levels despite one of the most difficult starts to the shipping season in years due to ice coverage. According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, total cargo tonnage from March 25 to August 31 reached 20 million metric tonnes, up 3 per cent over the same period last year.

The strong recovery has been fuelled by a surge of Canadian grain exports, increases in road salt inventories for Great Lakes municipalities and an influx of specialty steel and other metals for the automotive and construction industries. Construction materials such as stone and cement have also been in strong demand.

More than 5 million metric tonnes of grain have been shipped from Canadian Great Lakes ports such as Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Windsor, Goderich, Owen Sound and Port Colborne via the Seaway this season – up 86 per cent over last year. Thunder Bay, the largest grain port on the system, is now enroute to its strongest year overall since 1997 after playing an instrumental role in clearing a huge backlog of Prairie grain.

Salt shipments via the Seaway are also up by 30 per cent to 1.6 million metric tonnes this season as Canadian mines work to replenish the reserves of municipalities that ran dry of road salt after last year’s brutal winter.

General cargo tonnage – including specialty steel imports as well as Quebec aluminum and oversized project cargo like machinery or wind turbines – has topped 1.5 million tonnes, up 66 per cent.

Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation commented: “St. Lawrence Seaway shipments have not only recovered after a major deficit at the start of the year but have now surpassed last year’s levels. The new grain crops will begin shipping in the coming weeks and traffic is expected to be busy for the rest of the autumn. Our total shipments should end the year ahead of 2013.”