U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 3.9 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in January, an increase of 14% compared to a year ago, and 41% better than the month’s 5-year average.

Iron ore cargoes for the steel industry increased 21% compared to a year ago and outperformed their 5-year average by 58%.

Coal loadings slumped by 53% compared to 2011, down 45% when compared to the trade’s 5-year average.

Only one limestone cargo moved in January, which is more or less typical.  Since much of the limestone shipped on the Lakes is rinsed before loading, shipments largely cease when temperatures slip below freezing.