Subscribe for 33¢ / day

St. Lawrence Seaway cargo is on pace to top 2016 with only a few weeks left in the international shipping season on the Great Lakes.

Through Nov. 30, about 33.6 million tons of cargo passed through the system of locks while en route to Midwestern ports like the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, a 8.5-percent increase over the same period in 2016.

“It’s great to be where we are heading into the end of the year,” said Bruce Burrows, Chamber of Marine Commerce president. “The Seaway has recovered ground in key cargo commodities this season, particularly shipments of iron ore, while continuing to diversify by attracting more aluminum cargo and oversized machinery and components destined for the U.S. manufacturing and energy sectors.”

General cargo ships have risen by 28 percent so far this year, and dry bulk by 12 percent. Most dramatically, iron ore shipments rose 34 percent to 7.4 million tons between March and November.

In November, domestic freighters moved 8.5 million tons of cargo across the Great Lakes, a 1.3 percent year-over-year increase, according to the Lake Carriers Association. Iron ore cargoes for steelmaking rose 10 percent to 4.2 million tons, while limestone shipments soared by 27.5 percent.

So far this year, Great Lakes freighters have carried 78.5 million tons of cargo, a 3 percent year-over-year increase. Iron ore cargoes have rose 5.4 percent to 41.5 million tons over that period.


Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.