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Seaway officials: 2012 shipping season “exceeded” expectations

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The St. Lawrence Seaway wrapped up its 2012 shipping season last month on a high note, according to officials.

Officials with the Canadian Seaway Management Corp. said Monday that the total tonnage of goods that crossed the channel increased by 4 percent — to 38.9 million tons from 37.5 million tons — over 2011, exceeding the original forecast by 300,000 tons.

The rise in overall cargo volume was owed in part to a late-season surge in grain movements, officials said in a news release.

“The Seaway was instrumental in providing grain shippers with the means to rapidly respond and capitalize on market opportunities late in the season,” said Terence F. Bowles, president and CEO of the Seaway Management Corp.

Strong Canadian grain movements offset a sharp drop in U.S. grain movements resulting from the drought last year, the Seaway said.

There also was a notable increase in shipments of iron ore — a 14.6 percent rise over 2011 to 10,135 tons — crossing the Seaway for export to overseas destinations, such as China.

Also, demand for low-sulphur coal in Europe led to a substantial increase in coal volume — to 4,628 tons, a 23.7 percent increase over the 2011 navigation season.

Officials also noted the use of newly built, energy-efficient “state-of-the art vessels” on the Seaway and new navigational technology, such as the draft information system, which provides shippers real-time information on current and projected distances between a vessel’s keel and river bottoms.

“These new vessels, part of a billion-dollar fleet renewal effort by domestic and ocean carriers, combined with our marketing efforts, which have recorded 10.6 million tons in new business over the past five years, underscore the Seaway’s future potential,” Mr. Bowles said.

The St. Lawrence Seaway closed for the season on Dec. 29.

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