Two Harbors taconite shipments off by halfTwo Harbors experienced the most modest decline of any Minnesota port.
Iron ore pellet shipments via the Great Lakes are down two-thirds compared with last year, according to a report issued today by the Lake Carriers Association, a trade organization that represents the operators of U.S.-flagged vessels serving the world’s largest freshwater chain.
Through April of this year, lakers moved a little more than 2 million tons of iron ore pellets, as opposed to more than 6 million tons during the same period in 2008.
Two Harbors experienced the most modest decline of any Minnesota port, shipping 514,674 tons of iron ore pellets through April — about 52 percent less than the 1.07 million tons it moved last year.
Twin Ports shippers moved 643,363 tons of pellets through April — nearly 69 percent less than what they handled in 2008.
The fall-off has been even more dramatic in Silver Bay, where Northshore Mining Co. loaded only 57,628 tons of iron ore pellets through April — 94 percent less than the 984,696 tons it did last year.
The weak shipments are a reflection of a downturn in the steel industry. As the recession continues, consumers have reined in spending on automobiles and other durable goods, reducing demand for steel. Domestic steelmakers have been operating their blast furnaces at between 40 and 45 percent of capacity.
As of May, 46 lakers were in service on the Great Lakes — 28 fewer vessels than just one year ago.