Canadian grain leads slow St. Lawrence Seaway shipping recovery

August 20, 2020 – With 3.9 million metric tons of cargo moving through the St. Lawrence Seaway in July, the statistics for the 2020 shipping season continue to improve at a slow pace. July shipments pushed overall shipments (from April 1 to July 31) to 15.6 million metric tons, down just less than 8 per cent when compared to the same time period in 2019.

Year-to-date shipments of iron ore (down 13 per cent), coal (down 16 per cent), dry bulk (down 12 per cent) and liquid bulk (down 20 per cent) were offset in part by a strong showing in Canadian grain (up 13 per cent) and general cargo like wind turbines (up 4 per cent).

“It’s great to see the continued strong numbers for Canadian grain shipments, which has helped offset significant declines in key cargo sectors such as iron ore, dry bulk and petroleum,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “The Seaway has been a vital export corridor for Canadian farmers to reach world markets during the pandemic. We’re hopeful that grain numbers will remain strong with the new crop harvests in the autumn.”

The Port of Thunder Bay continues to see above-average grain shipments. This is a reflection of the continuing international demand for wheat through the global pandemic,” said Tim Heney, Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Thunder Bay. “We anticipate strong grain shipments in fall with Canadian farmers preparing to harvest one of the Top 5 largest crops in history.”

Overall, year-to-date cargo shipments for the Port of Thunder Bay have topped 4.7 million metric tons, about 17 per cent above last year’s tonnage at this time of the shipping season.

Port Windsor, meanwhile, continues to enjoy a summer recovery from the late Seaway opening and the COVID-19 pandemic. “We continue to see grain shipments (up 18.9 per cent) leading the way with aggregates, salt and petroleum volumes nearing 2019 levels,” said Steve Salmons, President & CEO of Port Windsor. “We also continue to see steel shipments down significantly (off 68 per cent) due primarily to the effects of trade and the pandemic.”

For Port Windsor, July 2020 tonnage was up 7.7 per cent over July 2019, while year-to-date overall tonnage remains down 4.6 per cent year-to-date.


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About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce is a bi-national association that represents more than 130 marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system’s significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.


Media Contact:

Julia Fields

Chamber of Marine Commerce

(613) 294-8515