Lake Carriers’ Association reports that U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 93.8 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in 2011, an increase of 5.75% compared to 2010. The 2011 volume was also just about on par with the fleet’s 5-year average.

Iron ore cargos for the steel industry increased 12.4% compared to a year ago and outperformed their 5-year average by 12.7%.

Coal loadings slipped by 6% compared to 2010, and even more – 14% – compared to the trade’s 5-year average.

Limestone cargos rebounded by a million tons, or 5% compared to 2010. However, shipments of aggregate and fluxstone still trailed their 5-year average by 8%.

Cement, salt, and sand totals increased slightly compared to 2010, but cement missed its 5-year average by about 500,000 tons.  Salt topped its 5-year average by about 200,000. Sand was one cargo short of its 5-year average.

Grain was down by roughly one boatload compared to 2010 and missed its 5-year average by about two cargoes.