In October, Great Lakes freighters transported 11.3 million tons of cargo, which signifies a 20 percent increase over the long-term October average. According to the Lakes Carriers' Association, shipments of taconite iron ore increased by 21.3 percent, and shipments of limestone have increased by 4 percent to 2.8 million tons.
This increase in grain and steel shipments has created the busiest October for Great Lakes freighters in over 10 years.
"Much of this is driven by increased throughput by manufacturers in Northwest Indiana and Chicago," said Rick Heimann, director of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, "but there is also significant new business being generated by metal processors that have expanded facilities or developed new businesses within our port complex. These sizable investments signify strong confidence in the long-term future of the Midwest economy and Great Lakes shipping."
Another reason for the October shipping surge is the delays earlier in the year due to near-record levels of ice. However, now that the ice has melted, the lakes have achieved higher than average water levels for the first time in decades. This allows ships to carry heavier loads, although carriers have stated that dredging in the harbor and open channels still prevents ships from transporting the fullest loads possible.
This year, 71.3 million tons have been shipped, which represents a 2.8 percent decrease from this time in 2013. With the weather delays during last winter and spring, shippers are now hoping for a warm winter so they can complete backlog. The U.S. and Canadian coast guards are also expected to help the shippers keep lanes open until mid-January.
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