Shipping and Logistics

Blockage on Rouge River Delaying Delivery of Ore to Steel Mills

Written by Sandy Williams


Shipping on the Rouge River in Detroit has been at a standstill ever since a bank collapsed on Aug. 23 blocking the waterway near the Carmeuse Lime dock.

Freighters attempting to bring iron ore and other raw materials to steel mills in the area have been unable to complete deliveries and dock inventories are declining as a result.

“I’m not aware that anybody has had to curtail operations,” said Glen Nekvasil, the vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association in Cleveland in a recent Detroit Free Press article. “But I do know that some docks are very, very low on raw materials. So it is important that we get this river open again as quickly as possible.”

Lake Carriers’ Association estimates there are approximately 475,000 tons of materials, about 20 shiploads of cargo, that have been affected.

The blockage on the Rouge follows a frustrating summer of delays at the Sault Ste. Marie locks.

AK Steel reports a slowdown in deliveries to Dearborn Works but has enough existing inventory to meet shipments to customers.

Brendan O’Connor, VP marketing at Interlake Steamship Company, reports delivery delays due to the closure. “We are impacted on both iron ore and stone deliveries and are engaged closely with the Coast Guard and the Army Corp of Engineers as they work with dredging contractors to restore the river to its previous condition,” said O’Connor. “While we are unable to deliver raw materials to AK Dearborn Works at the present time, we anticipate returning back into normal operation around the third week of September if the two dredging contractors are able to meet their objectives. While we are always concerned with losing opportunities to provide deliveries during our fixed and limited navigation season, we are reasonably confident of our being able to reduce the impact of this outage.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is working with the Carmeuse Lime dock to dredge the channel and investigate the cause of the collapse. Jeff Bittner, director of operations at Carmeuse, says the company has agreed cover costs of repairs.

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