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.”
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.