Reliable shipping on Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System continues in June

Reliable shipping on Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System continues in June

U.S. grain and dry bulk shipments remain up from 2021

The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership today reported monthly tonnage for shipping through the St. Lawrence Seaway for June, with numbers indicating continued reliability and productivity on the System. U.S. ports on the Great Lakes remain leading destinations for renewable energy, grain, and various dry bulk commodity shipments.

The Seaway System moved 414,000 metric tons of grain in June, up 37 percent compared to June 2021. Dry bulk cargo shipments were also up compared to last year, an increase led by potash (282 percent increase compared to last June), pig iron (106 percent compared to last June), and scrap metal (102 percent increase compared to last June).

“June proved to be another steady and productive month for U.S. ports on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System,” said Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator, Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “Despite a number of global issues out of our control, shipping on the Great Lakes remains reliable and resilient. Shippers around the world know that they can count on these ports to help get a range of goods to their final destination.”

It’s estimated that U.S. Great Lakes ports traded with at least 26 countries throughout June, up from 22 in May.

Below are the key performance indicators comparing June 2022 to the same period of 2021. While total transits and cargo are down slightly compared to a year ago, the U.S. Seaway sector reliability rate remains high at 99.1 percent.


2022 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Key Performance Indicators**
  2021 2022 Change (+/-)
Total Transits* 271 244 -9.96%
Total Cargo* 4,819,000 mt 4,243,000 mt -11.95%
*Combined U.S. and Canadian traffic

**All data is compared year-over-year (2021: Shipments from April 1 to June 30, 2021) (2022: Shipments from March 22 to June 30, 2022)


2022 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Key Commodity Trackers***
  2021 2022 Change (+/-)**
Grain* 3,423,000 mt 2,873,000 mt -16.06%
Iron Ore* 2,406,000 mt 2,119,000 mt -11.91%
Cement & Clinkers* 760,000 mt 624,000 mt -17.90%
Coal* 695,000 mt 533,000 mt -23.26%
Potash* 98,000 mt 376,000 mt +282.13%
Asphalt* 111,000 mt 87,000 mt -21.62%
Scrap Metal* 17,000 mt 35,000 mt +101.94%
Pig Iron* 7,000 mt 14,000 mt +106.01%
*Combined U.S. and Canadian traffic

**Percentages rounded to nearest tenth

***All data is compared year-over-year (2021: Shipments from April 1 to June 30, 2021) (2022: Shipments from March 22 to June 30, 2022)


June highlights from American Great Lakes ports

Lake Erie

The Port of Cleveland was active in June as its docks received eight inbound “salties” (ocean-going vessels) carrying steel products and containerized goods.

“Shippers throughout the Midwest and across Europe continue to rely on the Port of Cleveland to get a range of commodities into the U.S.,” said William D. Friedman, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. “June once again proved that our docks are well equipped to provide solutions to those looking to overcome current supply chain challenges.”

The Port of Monroe, Michigan’s only port on Lake Erie, began exporting wind tower sections in June. These renewable energy materials are headed for the Port of Oswego.

“Shipping on the Great Lakes is the most efficient mode of transporting large cargo,” said Samuel Hankinson, Port Development Coordinator at the Port of Monroe. “The fact that they are being moved between two Great Lakes ports demonstrates the efficiency of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway network.”

June was a strong month for the Port of Toledo as shipments for the year surpassed 4.5 million short tons, up 22 percent over the same period in 2021.

“We enjoyed increases in every cargo category other than liquid bulk,” said Joseph Cappel, VP of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.  “Our grain tonnage is more than double what it was at the same time last year and iron ore and coal are also up significantly.  With all three of our major staple commodities ahead of last year, we should expect a strong second half of our shipping season.”

The Port of Toledo is also in peak construction season with capital improvement projects occurring at the Toledo Shipyard, General Cargo Facility, and dredge material processing center. Additionally, the Port Authority is working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on several water quality improvement projects involving the creation of wetlands in the Maumee River and its tributaries.

Lake Michigan

Port Milwaukee was productive during June, bringing in both brewery and steel shipments from Europe.

“Wisconsin boasts a rich history of making things – ships, cheese, brats, and of course, beer! Port Milwaukee recently welcomed 13 brewing tanks from Germany that will be used for local beermaking and storage,” said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, Director of Port Milwaukee. “The Port is proud to help ensure the Badger State’s iconic brewing industry thrives in the years ahead through efficient shipping solutions that move our Made in Wisconsin economy forward.”

During a time of rising global energy costs, the Port of Green Bay reported a strong month for coal imports. In June, Green Bay’s docks welcomed 47,679 tonnes of coal (a 180 percent increase from June 2021) and saw a 16 percentoverall domestic cargo import year-to-date increase.

“The Port of Green Bay is proud to contribute to the efficiency and resiliency of shipping on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System,” said Dean Haen, Director of the Port of Green Bay. “Coal is just one of several commodities that we’re playing an integral role in delivering to the Midwest and America’s Heartland.”

Lake Superior

Limestone and general cargo shipments provided the June highlights for the Port of Duluth-Superior, according to spokesperson Jayson Hron.

Hron says that Duluth-Superior welcomed 433,143 short tons of the versatile chalky rock from Michigan, which pushed the season-to-date limestone total above 1 million short tons and 14.3 percent ahead of the five-season average.

Inbound wind energy cargoes and bagged minerals delivered the general cargo boost in June, with nearly 13,000 short tons arriving at the Duluth Cargo Connect facilities. That float lifted the season-to-date general cargo tonnage total past 27,280 short tons, which exceeds the five-season average pace through June 30 by a robust percent.

St. Lawrence Seaway

The Port of Ogdensburg received two shipments of wind energy equipment during June, bolstering New York State’s status as a leading destination for green energy materials.

“Here in Ogdensburg, we’re proud to play an important role in advancing New York’s green energy initiatives,” said Steve Lawrence, executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority. “This wouldn’t be possible without the hardworking men and women on our docks who are always up for the task, no matter how busy the shipping season gets.”