DULUTH MINNESOTA. February 10, 2020 (LSN) Cargo volume exceeded 33.5 million short tons at the Port of Duluth-Superior for the 2019 shipping season, ranking as the port’s third highest throughput since 2015. Four of the port’s six cargo categories notched season-over-season tonnage gains.
General cargo, comprised of project cargoes, breakbulk and heavy-lift industrial pieces, led the way with a tenfold tonnage increase. Wind energy cargo arrivals paced the surge, with Duluth Cargo Connect welcoming a single-season record 306,000 freight tons of wind energy cargo to the Clure Public Marine Terminal in 2019.
Other bulk cargo, a category dominated by inbound salt in 2019, also posted a substantial season-over-season increase, climbing 35 percent.
Grain tonnage reached 1.5 million short tons this season, an 18 percent increase over last season and 10 percent improvement on the five-season average. This included an unprecedented January grain shipment, as the H. Lee White departed Jan. 2, 2020, with 18,015 tons of spring wheat. Grain shipments from the Port of Duluth-Superior typically conclude in December.
Limestone rounded out the 2019 percentage gainers, with a 2 percent season-over-season tonnage increase.
Iron ore, despite declining from a 23-season high in 2018, remained the port’s top tonnage cargo in 2019, totaling 19.7 million short tons and exceeding the five-season average by more than 12 percent.
Tonnage gains were offset by a sharp drop in coal, which posted its lowest tonnage total (8 million short tons) since 1985.
Examining the St. Lawrence Seaway as a whole, one year removed from its best season in more than a decade, international shipping volume through the Seaway declined 6.4 percent in 2019. Contributing factors included international trade conflicts, crop-hindering weather and challenging navigational conditions due to high water levels.
“Despite some headwinds, it was a solid tonnage season for the Port of Duluth-Superior, and record-breaking for wind energy cargo,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “Looking ahead, we have reason for optimism in 2020, with the prospect of greater international trade certainty and more project cargo scheduled to arrive. The outlook is mostly upbeat.”
Additional 2019 highlights:
Photo caption: The Duluth Cargo Connect crew unloads wind energy cargo from a pair of oceangoing vessels at the Clure Public Marine Terminal in Duluth, Minnesota.
Photo credit: Duluth Cargo Connect
Approximately 800 vessels and 35 million short tons of cargo move through the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, making it the Great Lakes’ largest tonnage port and one of the nation’s top 20. The Port supports 8,000 jobs and contributes $1.4 billion in business revenue to the regional economy. Learn more at DuluthPort.com.
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