Port of Milwaukee total volume down, but manufacturing related orders up

Salt and coal shipments down, but steel and other commodities on the rise

The two largest-volume commodities shipped through the Port of Milwaukee, street salt and coal, are down in volume 41.5 and 26 percent year to date, respectively. However, the port has seen increases in dry bulk shipped via water, steel shipments, and liquid bulk shipped via rail and trucks.

Steel shipped over water has increased seven percent, year to date, said Mike Mathias, market analyst with the Port of Milwaukee. Land-based steel shipments, using rail or trucks, has increased 34.5 percent.

Mathias believes those numbers will continue to increase by the end of the year.

“I anticipate a few steel ships in before the end of the year, maybe six,” he said. “November will be busy and maybe December too.”

The port is now preparing to ship mining equipment made by Bucyrus International Inc. and Joy Global. Orders from each company will be transported by their own freighters, destined for international waters.

Dry bulk shipments, which include limestone, slag and construction stone, have increased by 10 percent, year to date, this year, Mathias said.

Grain, which is shipped through a private dock, is down more than six percent for the year. The port saw six shipments of grain sent in October, which significantly raised the 2010 tonnage.

“If not for those six ships, we would have been down a lot more,” Mathias said. “We were down 58 percent through September.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the manufacturing-related tonnage increases at the port are a sign that the manufacturing economy in metro Milwaukee is on the upswing.

“Our City is well served by the Port,” he said. “It plays a critical role in our region’s commerce which results in more jobs, more industry and more opportunities.”

In 2009, the port received the St. Lawrence Seaway Pacesetter Award, in recognition of its tonnage increases.

“This recognition, along with the increases in domestic commodities, are solid signs of the economic recovery and expansion that has occurred at the Port over the last year,” said Tim Hoelter, president of Milwaukee’s Board of Harbor Coomissioners.


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