Iron ore shipments on Great Lakes up slightly in 2012The tonnage of iron ore shipped on the Great Lakes during 2012 increased slightly from 2011, while the tonnages of coal and limestone decreased, according to figures released by the Lake
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
The tonnage of iron ore shipped on the Great Lakes during 2012 increased slightly from 2011, while the tonnages of coal and limestone decreased, according to figures released by the Lake Carriers’ Association.
The numbers are for the calendar year and not for the shipping season that is drawing to a close. The Soo Locks closed at midnight last night, but some lakers still are hauling cargos. The John G. Munson is expected to arrive in Superior early next week for winter layup, ending the shipping season for the Twin Ports. Season-end tonnage numbers will be available after that.
According to the Lake Carriers’ Association, 61.6 million tons of iron ore were shipped last year, an increase of 245,000 tons from the year before and nearly 7.7 million tons 14.2 percent) more than the five-year average.
While iron ore shipments from U.S. ports decreased 2.5 percent from 2011, they increased at Minnesota and Wisconsin ports: from 7.7 million tons in 2011 to 8 million tons last year from Duluth; from 8.9 million to 9.7 million tons from Superior; from 16.3 million to 16.6 million tons from
Two Harbors; and from 6 million to 6.1 million tons from Silver Bay.
Coal shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 25.3 million tons last year, an 8.2 percent decrease from 2011 and 25 percent off the average for the preceding five years.
Coal shipments from Superior declined only slightly from 2011 to 2012: from 14.29 million to 14.26 million tons. The five-year average for Superior is 18.7 million tons.
Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 27.1 million tons in 2012, a decrease of 3.6 percent from 2011 and 7 percent below the five-year
Low water levels and inadequate dredging affected shipping, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association. The largest coal cargo shipped through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., last year was 64,706 tons. During a period of high water levels during the late 1990s, a U.S.-flag laker was able to carry nearly 71,000 tons in a single trip.
The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes.