THUNDER BAY – A late start to the shipping season on the Great Lakes has made for a busy May. The Port Authority reports, “The Port of Thunder Bay handled more than 1.5 million tonnes of cargo during May -the largest tally in any single month since 1998. Grain shipments were particularly strong: over 1.3 million tonnes of grain were exported through the port’s eight grain elevators”.
Despite record-breaking ice conditions that set back the port’s opening date by an unprecedented four weeks, the port managed to make-up and even surpass last May’s year-to-date grain volumes. Other cargos with strong monthly comebacks included coal and dry bulk.
Vessel calls for the month were up sharply over last year and included 26 foreign ‘saltie’ vessels – the most in any single month since 2000. Salties transported a third (33%) of the port’s grain during the month, much higher than the five-year average of 15%.
Projections for June indicate a continued surge in grain shipments as grain companies continue to utilise Thunder Bay as a preferred export point for Canada’s record grain harvest from 2013.