The St. Lawrence Seaway reported year-to-date total cargo shipments for March 22 to September 30 were 23 million metric tons.
That's down 11 percent over the same period in 2012, but U.S. ports continue to beat the odds with increased tonnage in several cargo categories.
Rebecca Spruill, director of trade development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, said about a dozen ships from Europe unloaded steel products at ports in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Burns Harbor and Detroit over the past month.
She says it's "a clear sign that the end of the navigation season is approaching and shippers are working diligently to get products out of the mills and into the Seaway system before the end of the year."
Even though overall tonnage is down, Spruill said "September provided many positive signs that the next three months will be extremely busy for our ports and terminal operators in the Great Lakes-Seaway System."
In addition to the uptick in general cargo traffic at the ports, U.S. grain remained a bright spot for the month.
Nearly 700,000 metric tons of U.S. grain moved through the system, a 27 percent increase year-to-date over 2012.
Overall, cargo categories were down. While steel is driving tonnage for some U.S. ports, iron ore and coal shipments remained down in September by 18 and 2 percent, respectively.
Within the dry bulk category, scrap metal was up 22 percent, while the liquid bulk category posted an 8.6 percent jump over the same time in 2012.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Watertown, NY
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