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Conclusion of Shipping Season in Thunder Bay

Conclusion of Shipping Season in Thunder Bay

Photo by Richard W Falshaw

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~  January 15, 2022  (LSNews)    The 2021 Navigation Season will conclude tonight with the departure of MV Manitoulin carrying a shipment of wheat.  Seasonal cargo volumes topped 8.5 million metric tonnes (MMT), 6% lower than the 5-year average of 9.1 MMT.  Despite decreased grain shipments caused by weather conditions on the Prairies, the Port experienced growth in most areas, demonstrating success in its diversification initiatives.

Keefer Terminal cargo volumes doubled in 2021, with shipments of steel products and phosphate fertilizer making the most significant gains.  The tonnage of cargo handled at the Terminal was the highest in 20 years.  The Port acknowledges its partnership with cargo operations partner Logistec Stevedoring as key to its success in growing business at Keefer. 

“Success in transporting general cargo, particularly valuable dimensional pieces, depends on safe and secure handling.  Reliability of the operation is critical,” says Port CEO Tim Heney.  “Thunder Bay has developed a reputation as a trustworthy Port, and this helps to generate new and repeat business.”

The increase in inbound shipments improves competitiveness of the system, enabling two-way cargo for vessels.  “We’re bringing more inbound cargoes every year.  Matching these cargoes with export grain for saltwater vessels (Salties) reduces the overall cost and environmental impact of shipping,” notes Heney. “It also ensures a consistent volume of Salties available in Thunder Bay for grain exports.”

Potash shipments grew substantially this season as well.  Exports of Canadian-mined potash exceeded 600,000 tonnes for the first time since 2004.  The commodity, utilized as fertilizer, ships primarily to Europe by Saltie.

Grain volumes dropped in 2021, following a surge in 2020 that gave the Port its highest cargo tally in decades. 

With a probable return to more favourable crop conditions on the Prairies, Port officials are optimistic for a stronger shipping season in 2022.  Several large wind turbine shipments are due at Keefer Terminal in the summer, amidst another strong slate of steel and other general cargoes.  Further growth is anticipated in phosphate fertilizer shipments, which are imported for use by Western Canadian grain farmers.

Four vessels have laid up in Thunder Bay for the winter and will undergo varying degrees of maintenance and repair.

Photo by Richard W Falshaw

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