Great Lakes Seaway Shipping Navigates the Global Supply Chain With Significant Increase in Steel, Iron, & Iron Ore Tonnage

Washington, D.C. (October 19, 2021) – The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership today reported that American and Canadian ports in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System handled 5,361,000 mt of iron ore (+26.63 percent increase year-over-year) and 1,589,000 mt of iron and steel, an impressive 99.16 percent increase YOY. This noteworthy growth is reinforced by the overall increase in tonnage: 24,163,000 mt metric tons of cargo shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway (Seaway) from the opening of the Seaway on March 22, 2021, through September 30, 2021 (i.e., Year-to-date or YTD). This is a 2.66 percent increase compared to shipments during the same time period in 2020. Additionally, total transits YTD reached 2,529 vessels, a 2.10 percent increase compared to transits through September last year. Commodities seeing a significant increase include iron ore, steel, as well as cement.

“Vessel traffic through the Great Lakes Seaway System remains steady,” said Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator, Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “Iron ore continues to be a standout export commodity moving through the system, with a 27 percent increase when compared to the same time frame in 2020. General cargo saw a 59 percent increase due to the strong performance of steel products used for manufacturing. While drought conditions in parts of the Midwest continue to affect the export of U.S. grain, we anticipate an increase in grain shipments as the fall harvest becomes available. The Great Lakes Seaway System does not appear to be experiencing the same degree of supply chain disruptions as is the case elsewhere.”

To learn more about iron ore movement and the steel supply chain across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, watch the first installment of The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership’s American Anchor series.

Photo: A stacker reclaimer in operation collecting iron ore from a stockpile in Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Photo: A stacker reclaimer in operation collecting iron ore from a stockpile in Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Photo: A stacker reclaimer in operation collecting iron ore from a stockpile in Burns Harbor, Indiana.

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2021 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Key Performance Indicators**
2020 2021 Change (+/-)
Total Transits* 2,477 2,529 +2.10%
Total Cargo*        23,537,000 mt        24,163,000 mt +2.66%
*Combined U.S. and Canadian traffic

**All data is compared year-over-year. Shipments for 2020 from April 1 to September 30, 2020. Shipments for 2021 from March 22 to September 30.

 

2021 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Key Commodity Trackers***
2020 2021 Change (+/-)**
Iron Ore* 4,234,000 mt 5,361,000 mt +26.63%
Iron & Steel* 798,000 mt 1,589,000 mt +99.16%
Cement & Clinkers 1,267,000 mt 1,364,000 mt +7.64%
Coke* 643,000 mt 1,062,000 mt +65.20%

 

Gypsum 543,000 mt 642,000 mt +18.27%
Steel Slabs 305,000 mt 464,000 mt +51.94%

 

Stone 190,000 mt 296,000 mt +55.67%
Potash 164,000 mt 279,000 mt +69.85%
Ores & Concentrates 123,000 mt 195,000 mt +58.15%
*Combined U.S. and Canadian traffic

**Percentages rounded to nearest tenth

***All data is compared year-over-year. Shipments for 2020 from April 1 to September 30, 2020. Shipments for 2021 from March 22 to September 30.

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Port Profiles

PORT OF CLEVELAND

Great Lakes Seaway Shipping Navigates the Global Supply Chain With Significant Increase in Steel, Iron, & Iron Ore Tonnage

Photo: PEYTON LYNN C in Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo: PEYTON LYNN C in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Port of Cleveland had a robust September, which exceeded projections for tonnage compared to September levels in 2019 and 2020.

“A variety of general cargoes, which included numerous forms of imported steel, RTG cranes from Finland, and a multitude of containers moved across the Port’s docks.” said David Gutheil, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Cleveland. “The containers arrived on the Peyton Lynn C, an 860 TEU container only vessel that is on charter to Spliethoff for the next two years. This vessel has been added to the Cleveland-Europe Express service, which has now expanded from 2 to 3 calls/month. Tonnage at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal (CBT), which handles iron ore and limestone, also increased year over year. CBT has now moved more tonnage through September than all of 2020. The Port has also started the largest infrastructure project in our history. This $22 million project will span 18 months and rehabilitate and upgrade our two of our main docks, while not disrupting cargo operations.”

Port of Cleveland, in collaboration with Spliethoff, has introduced the Peyton Lynn C, an 860 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) capacity vessel for containers-only to the Cleveland-Europe Express. The Port expects business to grow by 30 to 50 percent. This third call, added to the previous two, allows more opportunity for shippers to push more supplies monthly. Learn more about the Cleveland-Europe Express at www.portofcleveland.com/cleveland-europe-express/.

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TOLEDO-LUCAS COUNTY PORT AUTHORITY

The Port of Toledo continued to post strong tonnage numbers through the month of September with more than 7.5 million tons already on the books.

Great Lakes Seaway Shipping Navigates the Global Supply Chain With Significant Increase in Steel, Iron, & Iron Ore Tonnage

Photo: Unloading the new Liebherr 550 Mobile Harbor Crane in Toledo, Ohio

Photo: Unloading the new Liebherr 550 Mobile Harbor Crane in Toledo, Ohio.

“Toledo is a very diverse port handling many different commodities, and, fortunately for us, most of those cargos are outperforming 2020 levels so far this year,” said Joseph Cappel, Vice President, Business Development, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Toledo is ahead in coal, dry bulk, general cargo and iron ore while grain and liquid bulk are down slightly.  While ports on the Great Lakes certainly have our challenges with labor shortages in the transportation sector, the impact of COVID, and other issues, the reliable Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System and the associated multi-modal supply chains that serve our ports appear to be faring relatively well allowing our tonnage in Toledo to grow by more than 25% this year.”

 

 

About the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System serves a dynamic economic region that includes eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. If the region were a country, it would have the 3rd largest economy in the world with a GDP of $5.5 trillion – larger than that of Japan, Germany, Brazil, or the United Kingdom. The region is home to 107 million people and accounts for almost 40 percent of the total cross-border trade between the U.S. and Canada.

Great Lakes-Seaway shipping is a foundation of this vibrant economy. More than 160 million metric tons of commercial cargo are transported on the waterway each year, providing low-cost and efficient transportation for the region’s manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and energy sectors. Great Lakes-Seaway shipping lifts American and Canadian economies on an annual basis by supporting:

  • 237,868 jobs
  • $35 billion in economic activity
  • $14.2 billion in personal income and local consumption expenditures
  • $6.6 billion in federal, state/provincial, and local tax revenue

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About the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership

The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership is a coalition of leading US and Canadian maritime organizations working to enhance public understanding of the benefits of commercial shipping in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region of North America. The organization manages an education-focused communications program, sponsors research and works closely with media, policy makers, community groups, allied industries, environmental stakeholders, and the general public to highlight the positive attributes of marine transportation.

 

For more information, please visit www.greatlakesseaway.org.

 

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