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Great Lakes shipping was brisk in May

The St. Lawrence Seaway expects "a promising year following strong numbers in May."

Maritime executives expect another promising year for Great Lakes shipping, despite a slight dip in cargoes.

The 2018 shipping season got off to a slow start because of icy conditions but posted strong numbers for grain, coal, liquid bulk and general cargo in May.

“Brisk activity in May has helped to overcome a slow start to shipping after ice challenges in the Soo Locks and in Lake Superior,” Chamber of Marine Commerce President Bruce Burrows said. “The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system is an important trade corridor for the United States for iron ore and grain exports, road salt and construction materials, among other cargoes. Customer demand is strong and we are optimistic that Seaway cargo volumes could potentially reach 40 million metric tons by the end of the year.”

Cargo volumes through the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Great Lakes totaled 7.9 million tons from March 29 to May 31. That was 4 percent down as compared to the same period in 2017. 

Stone shipments on the Great Lakes are up by 162 percent this spring, low-sulfur coal by 43 percent, refined petroleum and asphalt by 19 percent and cement by 14 percent.

Iron ore shipments have fallen by 25 percent this spring, but are expected to pick up in the coming months, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Corp.

The Ports of Indiana handled 11.8 million tons of cargo, breaking a three-year record for the second straight year. Shipments were down slightly at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan early on this year.

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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.