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Duluth-Superior Shipping Season winds down; Last 3 lakers headed in for winter layup

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DULUTH, MINN - January 14, 2010 – As the shipping winds down this week, the Port of Duluth Seaway Port AuthorityDuluth-Superior, the Great Lakes, and the entire Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System are closing the books on one of the most difficult navigation seasons in the waterway’s history. The recession hammered the construction, automotive, steel and appliance industries in the U.S. and Canada reducing demand for raw materials. All sectors of the freight industry felt the ill effects, in particular, maritime.

“Mid-summer, we thought the Port might reach 34 million short tons this year,” noted Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “But it looks like we’ll end up closer to 31 million tons once the navigation season closes.” 

While final tonnage figures for the 2009 navigation season for the Port of Duluth-Superior won’t be available until next week, here is a recap of where things stood through December:
• Overall tonnage for Duluth-Superior off 32% from last year  
• Largest decline in Iron Ore – lagging 57% behind last year’s numbers 
• Coal tonnage running 17% behind last year       
• Grain up some 32% from this time last year
• Other commodities off just over 21% (e.g. limestone, cement, salt, etc. + general cargo/freight)

Local declines in tonnage mirror those reported at ports across the Great Lakes. The largest drop came in iron ore cargos for the steel industry.  The Port of Duluth-Superior will top 8 million tons handled locally by the end of this navigation season, less than half the ore shipments for 2008.
 
As reported recently by the Lake Carriers’ Association, Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes, long the backbone of the navigation system, fell to their lowest level in 71 years in 2009. Iron ore
Duluth-Superior winds down

cargoes totaled only 31,792,629 short tons – off 50 percent compared to 2008, and the lowest level recorded since 1938 when the trade finished the year at 21,574,573 tons.”   (Note: Duluth-Superior recorded 11,642,507 short tons in ’38).

Ojard sounded hopeful for the upcoming shipping season. “It (2009) was a tough year for maritime on our inland waterway. But signs indicate an uptick in demand. Some regional steel mills began re-firing blast furnaces near year-end, Keetac resumed operations and steel prices have shown some firming. We actually had lakers moving product this month compared to this time last year, when no ore moved in January. Signs are positive that by mid-2010 we will start seeing shipments of iron ore, limestone and coal rebounding to levels of previous years.”

  Though the Seaway System may not see the same volume of ‘salties’ due to a weakened U.S. dollar and decreased demand for imports in the Lower Lakes (e.g. steel), Ojard anticipates greater activity in inbound wind turbine shipments, which bodes well for backhauls of grain to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. “If the economy continues to move forward, the Port of Duluth-Superior should be much nearer a 40 million-ton mark for overall tonnage at this time next year.”

For Quick Reference:

 YTD AVG thru DEC (2004–08) YTD thru Dec. 08       YTD thru Dec 09 % change     
       5-year averages         Actual                     Actual              
Coal             20,076,893     21,704,037          18,023,555 -17.0%
Grain  2,520,462       1,234,120     1,625,726 +31.7%    
Iron Ore            18,324,839     18,240,158     7,864,069 -56.9%        
Other   4,133,242        3,870,815     3,037,654 -21.5%  
Grand Total      45,055,436     45,049,130    30,551,004 -32.2%        
(short tons)

For more detailed information, see Port of Duluth-Superior Marine Tonnage Report – December 2009
sent with this release and/or available at
www.duluthport.com

Liquid Bulk 5 967 10 178 80 795 89 384

PORT OF DULUTH

SUPERIOR MARINE TONNAGE REPORT DECEMBER 2009

(In Short Tons of 2,000 lbs.)

DECEMBER

YEAR TO DATE

2009

2008

2009

2008

TOTAL CANADIAN

611,073

1,152,056

7,308,632

13,959,774

Canadian Exports

611,073

1,104,550

6,927,160

13,510,304

Coal & Coke

185,243

654,637

3,941,714

7,261,530

Grain & By

Products for Transshipment

55,654

0

327,288

396,728

Iron Ore & Concentrates

370,175

449,913

2,620,629

5,826,161

Misc. Bulk

0

0

37,529

25,885

Canadian Imports

0

47,506

381,472

449,469

Dry Bulk

0

47,506

381,472

433,535

Other

0

0

0

15,934

TOTAL DOMESTIC

1,617,484

1,885,929

22,170,324

30,230,997

Domestic Receipts

178,587

61,395

2,692,968

3,254,942

Coal & Coke

31,981

18,346

174,630

137,734

Dry Bulk

24,730

22,923

286,921

276,311

Iron Ore & Concentrates

0

0

51,692

0

Limestone

121,876

20,126

2,179,653

2,840,460

Other

0

0

73

436

Domestic Shipments

1,438,897

1,824,533

19,477,356

26,976,055

Coal & Coke

1,033,048

1,349,231

13,907,211

14,304,773

Grain, Bulk

16,730

19,914

325,479

225,243

Iron Ore & Concentrates

383,152

445,210

5,147,340

12,332,258

LiquidBulk

5967,

10178,

80795,

89384,

Other

0

0

16,530

24,397

TOTAL OVERSEAS

50,681

79,074

1,072,048

858,360

Overseas Exports

47,961

78,081

1,069,329

802,281

General Cargo

0

0

255

373

Grain & By

Products

47,961

78,081

972,960

612,149

Iron Ore & Concentrates

0

0

44,407

81,739

Misc. Bulk

0

0

51,707

108,021

Overseas Imports

2,720

993

2,720

56,078

General Cargo

2,720

993

2,720

56,078

TOTAL WATERBORNE COMMERCE

2,279,238

3,117,058

30,551,004

45,049,130

DECEMBER

YEAR TO DATE

2009

2008

2009

2008

US Flag Arrivals

52

39

466

765

Canadian Flag Arrivals

20

14

187

276

Subtotal Lake Arrivals

72

53

653

1041

Overseas Vessel Arrivals

6

4

64

69

TOTAL VESSEL ARRIVALS

78

57

717

1110

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