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St. Lawrence Seaway officials reporting slow start to 2013 shipping season

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MASSENA – The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to May 31 were 8.1 million metric tons, down 12 percent over the same period in 2012.

“U.S. grain tonnage shipped through Seaway locks more than doubled (132 percent) compared to last year’s figures through May 31, and there was a solid increase (7 percent) in liquid bulk products totaling almost a million metric tons. These two commodities are the bright spots in the navigation season so far,” said Rebecca Spruill, director of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation’s Office of Trade Development.

Iron ore and coal, traditionally top producers for Seaway shipments, showed downturns of 17 percent and 7 percent respectively. Coal shipments in the Great Lakes have been dropping due to electric utility plants converting to natural gas operations. However, U.S. ports have seen an increase of exports of low sulfur coal to Europe.

General cargo was down 19 percent to 389,000 metric tons. In the liquid bulk category, petroleum products showed a 24 percent year-to-date increase to 642,000 metric tons. The dry bulk category was down 27 percent to 1.7 million metric tons. However, scrap metal and pig iron posted upturns of 69 percent and 16 percent respectively.

SLSDC Acting AdministratorCraig Middlebrook remained optimistic. “We continue to feel encouraged about the 2013 navigation season. The significant public and private reinvestments currently being made in the North American economy and the Great Lakes region are laying the groundwork for sustained future growth,” he said.

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