Port of Thunder Bay continues Strong Grain Move

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Loading Grain on a Saltie in the Port of Thunder Bay - Photo courtesy Port Authority
Loading Grain on a Saltie in the Port of Thunder Bay - Photo courtesy Port Authority

The MV Saginaw a grain carrier in the Port of Thunder Bay
The MV Saginaw a grain carrier in the Port of Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – The Port of Thunder Bay’s strong grain haul continued  in October, with over 850,000 metric  tonnes of the Westem Canadian cargo exported by vessel during the month. That is a third more than the ten-year  October average of 645,000  metric  tonnes.

The Port is closing in on the end of a third consecutive shipping season featuring very strong     grain shipments. •Grain volumes for the three most recent shipping seasons (2014 through 2016) are 34% higher than the ten-year average from 2004 to 2013. This equates to an additional 2  million metric tonnes of grain being shipped through Thunder  Bay elevators    annually.

Thunder Bay Port Authority CEO Tim Heney points out that these results ar·e not a coincidence, but rather something of a new normal for Thunder Bay: “A variety of factors are responsible for the port’s increased shipments, the first of which was the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on Western Canadian grain. Since that took place in 2012, grain companies now control the movement of their grain to market. Thunder Bay is the largest export port on the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway System; most Canadian grain companies operate elevator facilities in Thunder Bay and utilise the Seaway to transport grain for direct export and to their elevators in Quebec.”

The Port of Thunder Bay had a fantastic September - with more cargo volume since September 1997
The Port of Thunder Bay had a fantastic September – with more cargo volume since September 1997

Heney indicates that a major development in Thunder Bay was the re-opening of the former Viterra ‘ C’ elevator by Richardson International in late 2014. “The facility, Richardson Current River, increased the port’s grain throughput capacity by over two million tonnes.”

Another Canadian agribusiness has recently established a presence in the port. AGT ,Food and Ingredients is utilising a loop track facility to export lentils directly from Thunder Bay via ocean

vessels to international markets. “There is an understanding of the Seaway and Thunder Bay as an efficient, effective route through which to access those markets,” says Heney.