U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters moved 6.1 million tons of cargo in April, a decrease of 14 percent compared with a year ago. The April float also trailed the month’s five-year average by more than 5 percent.
Iron ore cargos for steel production totaled 3.9 million tons, a decrease of 12.6 percent. Coal shipments fell 36.7 percent to 743,000 tons. Limestone cargos dipped 6.5 percent to 1.1 million tons.
Year-to-date U.S.-flag carriage stands at 9.4 million tons, a decrease of 17 percent compared to the same point in 2017. Iron ore cargos total 6.75 million tons, a decrease of 16 percent. Coal loadings total 837,000 tons, a decrease of 43 percent. Limestone cargos have actually increased by roughly four loads in river-class vessels to 1.27 million tons.
Some decrease was inevitable, said the Lake Carriers Association. The winter of 2017/2018 was more typical than 2016/2017 and vessels experienced many more ice-related delays this April. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards continued to break ice in Whitefish Bay and the St. Marys River that connect Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes into May.
Lake Carriers’ Association represents 13 American companies that operate 45 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 100 million tons of cargo per year. More information is available at www.lcaships.com.