U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters, many of them featuring SIU crews, carried 8.5 million tons of cargo in December, an increase of 17.5 percent compared to a year ago, the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) reported. Driving the surge was a 16-percent increase in iron ore cargoes. Limestone and coal cargoes also registered increases, 31 and 19.5 percent, respectively.
For the year, U.S.-flag lakers carried 83.7 million tons of cargo, a decrease of 2.3 percent compared to 2017, according to the LCA. Iron ore cargoes totaled 45.8 million tons, a decrease of 0.4 percent.
“That the iron ore total essentially pulled even with 2017 is noteworthy; the delays that resulted from heavy ice in March and April had the trade 16 percent off 2017’s pace at the end of April,” the association noted in late January. “In fact, the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards continued to break ice in Whitefish Bay at the eastern end of Lake Superior and the St. Mary’s River that connects Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes into May.”
Coal cargoes totaled 11.8 million tons, a decrease of 11.4 percent. Limestone loadings approached 22 million tons, an increase of 1.9 percent.