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September 23, 2019

Wind energy lifts Great Lakes shipping in August

Business North

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported gains in traditional and project cargo for the month of August, Seaway officials said Tuesday.

For the year-to-date, however, total cargo shipments for the period from March 22 through Aug. 31 were 20.9 million metric tons, a decrease of just over 3 percent compared to 2018.

In August, the Seaway saw year-over-year (YOY) increases in salt (in preparation for winter), ores and concentrates, other general cargo, stone, and cement and clinkers.  Project Cargo continues to be the good news story for the U.S. Great Lakes ports of Toledo, OH, Bay City, MI and Duluth with vessels arriving with windmill components, large steel structures and machinery.    

Craig H. Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., said, “Shipments of project cargo, particularly windmill components, remained strong in August.  We are also seeing solid gains in dry bulk commodities as we head into what is traditionally the busiest time of the Seaway navigation season.”

With an increased focus on shipping project cargo to the Great Lakes, there was also an increased demand for construction materials in August, spurring economic activity in America. As part of this, the Port of Duluth-Superior has seen several wind energy related shipments throughout 2019. 

“The Port welcomed four more shipments of wind energy cargo in August, keeping us on a near-record pace for that particular cargo,” Jayson Hron, director of communications and marketing, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, said in a news release.

Although project cargo does not fall into its own category, wind energy and project cargo have played a role in pushing the port’s overall tonnage slightly ahead of 2018 and the five-year average.

Project cargo tonnage is recorded into an “other” category, which is not limited to an individual commodity — but as the number of wind-related and project cargos has increased on the Great Lakes, so has tonnage recorded in the 'other' category.

“We’re up almost seven percent year-to-date over 2018 in our ‘other’ tonnage,” said Hron. “August was particularly strong for ‘other,’ at almost 10 percent ahead of August 2018 pace.”