Shipments rose 16 percent at the Port of Indiana Burn Harbor in October, the sixth straight month tonnage has increased.

The port, which is in Portage on Lake Michigan's southern shore, notably received a cargo shipment of 29 distillery tanks from Antwerp, Belgium last month. The beer-brewing equipment was bound for a brewery expansion in Chicago.

But most of the increase for the month could be chalked up to steel and raw materials the mills need, said Rick Heimann, port director for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.

"An increase in coke, steel, and steel-related products as well as limestone are among this month's drivers," Heimann said.

Tonnage shipped through the deepwater port also increased 16 percent in September. The port has been bustling despite a 7 percent decline in year-to-date cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.

"With 35 million tons of maritime shipments being handled along Indiana's coastline by an extensive logistical network and infrastructure, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is well positioned to serve customers throughout the Midwest," Heimann said. "We truly appreciate all the companies that have trusted us with their business, which has allowed us to experience the volume growth over the last six months."

Overall, shipments through the Great Lakes dropped to 28 million tons between March 22 to Oct. 31, which is down from 31 tons over the same period last year. Most types of cargo were down for the month.

The steel industry drove increased tonnage for the port in Porter County, but iron ore shipments were down 12.5 percent overall for the month and coal declined by 3 percent. Both are main ingredients used in steelmaking.

"The seaway's principal commodities – iron ore, coal and grain – helped move the scales in the right direction for cargo tonnage handled on the Great Lakes-Seaway System," said Rebecca Spruill, director of trade development at the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. "Although the bi-national waterway figures are still below last year's levels, we're seeing solid evidence that the final two months of the 2013 navigation season will be extremely busy for our shipping industry."