Shipping and Logistics

Shipments Through Indiana Ports Jumped by 33.6% in 2021

Written by Tim Triplett

The Ports of Indiana handled more than 11.2 million tons of cargo in 2021, resulting in a 33.6% increase from 2020. Steel and steelmaking materials made up a big chunk of the increase.

Major cargo increases last year for the Ports of Indiana overall included a rebound in coal (213%), salt (141%), steel (40%), grain (39%), minerals (23%), oils (21%) and limestone (20%). Additional increases included coke and project cargo such as wind turbines, the port authority reported.

ship ironore“The Ports of Indiana recovered very well after a down pandemic year,” said Ports of Indiana CEO Vanta E. Coda II. “Burns Harbor and Jeffersonville had their best tonnage years ever thanks to our core businesses growing, a steady economy and new shipment opportunities taking advantage of our world-class infrastructure and value-add partners.”

Burns Harbor

On Lake Michigan, the Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 3.39 million tons in 2021, up nearly 50% compared to 2020 and the highest annual shipment total since it began operation in 1970. Limestone was up 92% from the previous year. Steel shipments grew by 67% compared to 2020.

“For Burns Harbor, 2021 was ripe for opportunities,” Port Director Ryan McCoy said. “We had several non-scheduled freight shipments that landed at just the right time. Our infrastructure was ready, and we were able to capture new projects. It was a banner year.”

The $20 million Burns Harbor expansion will continue to be developed over the next few years and include new shipping berths, a truck marshalling yard, a 1,200-foot expansion of a cargo dock and a new cargo terminal with multimodal connections for handling cargo transfers between ships, barges, rail cars and trucks. Construction of two new rail yards has already been completed.


The Ports of Indiana-Jeffersonville on the Ohio River handled 3.22 million tons in 2021, up 21.6% compared to 2020 and the highest annual shipment total since the facility began operation in 1985. Salt was up 59%, grain was up 49% and steel was up 21.6% for the year.

Jeffersonville is nearing completion of $24 million in infrastructure enhancements that have added nearly four miles to the port’s existing 11-mile rail network. The project is in the final stages and will officially be finished this spring.

Mount Vernon

Also on the Ohio River, the Ports of Indiana-Mount Vernon handled 4.65 million tons of cargo, up 32% from 2020. Coal shipments were up 241% meeting export demand, yet down considerably compared to prior years. Salt (143%), minerals (73%), grain (90%), steel (32%) and fertilizer (21%) were all up in 2021. A large grain crop with strong prices prompted producers to invest in fertilizer, resulting in an increase for both products. A rebound in manufacturing drove steel coil volumes up.

The Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority managing three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. Established in 1961, the Ports of Indiana is a self-funded enterprise dedicated to growing Indiana’s economy by developing and maintaining a world-class port system.

By Tim Triplett,

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