The St. Lawrence Seaway today announced that traffic is on pace with the Seaway’s five-year average. Through November, Great Lakes vessel operators moved a combined 34.04 million metric tons of cargo. Year-to-date overall tonnage is 6.4 percent behind 2018’s record-breaking season (compared to this time last year).

As the navigation season nears its end, dry bulk commodities surpassed last year’s volumes by 12.8 percent, liquid bulk by two percent and containerized cargo by 44 percent.
Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said, “With Seaway cargo tonnage reaching 34 million tons through November, though down slightly from this time last year, traffic is still keeping up with the five-year average. Our ports are busy as we approach the end of the navigation season, and we are seeing that cargo diversity is more important than ever.”
Top five performing cargos through November 2019 include:
Salt — 3,478,000 metric tons; 16.9%* increase
Petroleum Products — 3,095,000 metric tons; 5.6%* increase
Cement & Clinkers — 1,785,000 metric tons; 6%* increase
Coke — 1,362,000 metric tons; 17.5%* increase
Gypsum — 581,000 metric tons; 38.1%* increase
*Compared to 2018 tonnage. Percentages rounded to nearest tenth.
The Port of Toledo is just one example of an American Great Lakes port optimizing activity with robust cargo diversification. Through November, the Port handled over 8.6 million tons of cargo on nearly 500 vessel transits. Despite seeing a decline in grain shipments, Joe Cappel, VP Business Development, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, noted gains in general cargo, iron ore and petroleum products for the Port.
“We knew in the spring with all the rain and flooding that fall grain exports would be down — and they are by nearly fifty percent. The Port of Toledo, however, is very resilient, and we’ve seen gains in other cargo categories that have offset the grain numbers,” said Cappel. “Our thoughts are with all the farmers and we are hoping that 2020 will be a much better year for them and that the Port of Toledo will be firing on all cylinders.”
Port Milwaukee saw multiple international imports during November, contributing to the Port’s 24 percent increase in overall tonnage compared to last season.
Adam Schlicht, Director, Port Milwaukee, shared that overall steel imports are eight percent over the Port’s 2018 season. Shipments accounting for the increase include steel coils from Germany, Belgium and Netherlands, stainless steel plates and steel rails from Belgium, and flats from the United Kingdom.
Port Milwaukee also received a shipment of salt from Egypt, adding to the Port’s strong season —particularly in handling dry bulk shipments across multiple commodity categories.
Schlicht noted that “Shipments of salt and limestone, handled by Milwaukee Bulk Terminals and others, as well as cement, handled by LaFarge and others, have seen double-digit increases when compared to tonnage amounts through December 2018.”
Port Activity: The Port of Duluth-Superior
The Port of Duluth-Superior finished November ahead of their five-season average and remained on pace to top 35 million tons for the third consecutive season, with grain tonnage finishing the month more than 16 percent ahead of this time last season and 10 percent over the five-season average.
General cargo tonnage, including the final wind energy cargo shipments of 2019 and multiple industrial project cargo shipments, also contributed to a healthy November tonnage total in Duluth. In total, general cargo tonnage for November exceeded the Port’s five-season average by 11 percent.
Seaway Receives Cargos from Fourteen Countries in November
In November, the Seaway saw an international mix of inbound shipments from Canada, Africa, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Brazil, Norway, Ukraine, Egypt and Turkey. A few particularly noteworthy shipments in November included a shipment of ferromanganese and silicomanganese from Norway into the Port of Chicago, a shipment of slag from South Africa into the Port of Ashtabula, and a shipment of salt from Egypt into the Port of Green Bay.