Steel Products Prices North America

Ice Impact Still Lingering on Lakes

Written by Sandy Williams

Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 6.4 million tons in May, nearly the same as May 2013, according to Lake Carriers’ Association. Shipments were about 600,000 tons lower than anticipated due to the idling of three US flag lakers for repairs during May due to ice damage suffered in March and April.

US port shipments of ore totaled 5.8 million tons, unchanged from last year. Shipments from Canadian terminals increased slightly to 588,000 tons.

Year to date totals for ore are down 26 percent year over year at 12.7 million tons. Ice on the Great Lakes slowed shipping well into April. Hazardous ice conditions kept Lake Superior vessels under US Coast Guard escort until May 2.

Lake Carriers’ says dredging is still needed to keep water levels at optimum for large load vessels.

“Rising water levels did allow for bigger loads than a year ago, but dredging remains very much needed. The largest iron ore cargo to move in May totaled 67,293 tons, an increase of 2,800 tons compared to a year ago. However, in May of 1997, a time when water levels were approaching near record highs and allowing vessels to load to almost their full draft, the top ore cargo totaled 69,961 tons, and before the season was out, some loads would top 72,000 tons.”

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