Steel shipments soar at Port of Milwaukee

Steel shipments are up at the Port of Milwaukee by 47 percent through September, compared with the same span last year.

The Port has handled more than 111,000 metric tons of steel and other general cargo from overseas and another 18,000 metric tons from the United States and Canada.

“In addition to our steel shipments, deicing road salt prices are up, and salt customers are looking for relief,” said Paul Vornholt, director of operations and trade, Port of Milwaukee. “Ordinarily, salt is supplied from mines on the shores of the Great Lakes. However, in September, the Port received a 21,000 ton-shipment of salt from the North African nation of Morocco. The vessel bringing that cargo traveled through the St. Lawrence Seaway and can truly be called a ‘saltie.’”

Dry bulk cargoes moving through the port totaled 1.6 million metric tons and more than 40 million metric tons of grain year-to-date. The dry bulk cargoes, carried on U.S. and Canadian laker vessels, are largely salt, limestone, cement and coal.

Officials from the Port recently joined other Great Lakes seaport representatives at the Journal of Commerce annual BreakBulk Americas Conference in Houston, Texas. The conference offered many opportunities to further educate the global shipping community about the advantages of utilizing the Great Lakes as a portal for international cargoes to reach population centers in the interior of North America.

“September marks the beginning of what is traditionally the busiest time of the shipping season, and the cargo moving through the U.S. ports serves as a positive indicator that the regional economy is healthy due in part to the maritime industry,” said administrator Betty Sutton of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. “The numbers speak for themselves – increases in tonnage were reported by all our ports and they expect that trend to continue through December.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date cargo shipments of more than 24 million metric tons moved through the system for the period March 28 to Sept. 30 – an increase of nearly 5 percent over September 2013. U.S. grain continued its upward trend posting a 15 percent increase over the same time last year. The general cargo category posted a 73 percent jump over 2013; and the dry bulk category was up 3.27 percent with stone and salt leading the numbers. Iron ore and coal were down 27 and 16 percent respectively.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and wages, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial and local taxes. North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system.

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