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Ports of Indiana have second best year in history

Three generators are seen from above in the engine room of the Montreal-based Fednav Group's new ship the Federal Caribou at the Port of Indiana in Burns Harbor in August. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.6 million tons of cargo in 2016.

Indiana's three ports, including the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in Portage, handled a cumulative 11.3 million tons of cargo last year.

It was the second highest volume in the 55-year history of the state's port system and the third straight year the ports handled more than 10 million tons.

"Thanks to our world-class port companies and other businesses that use our facilities, our ports remain one of the most vibrant port systems in the heartland of America," Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper said. "With our total 2016 shipments more than two million tons higher than the previous five-year average, a global steelmaker announcing plans to build a processing plant at our Jeffersonville port and several existing port companies making significant capital investments during the year, the prospect for continued growth at the ports is certainly encouraging."

Longshoremen at the Hoosier state's ports have handled 34 million tons of cargo since 2014, the highest three-year volume since they opened. That included 3.9 million tons in the fourth quarter, a new record that surpassed the previous record in 2015 by 300,000 tons.

The self-sustaining port system, based in Indianapolis, operates the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon and the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville on the Ohio River, and the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan. The deepwater port in Porter County handled 2.6 million tons last year.

Grain shipments rose 57 percent at the Port of Indiana Burns Harbor, while large-dimensional cargoes like beer fermentation tanks and wind turbines were up 25 percent, and coal was up by 11 percent.

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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.