After a sluggish September, international cargo on the Great Lakes showed a healthy 10% increase last month.
Iron ore and dry bulk cargo lead the way. It gives the so-called “salty” ocean-going traffic what U.S. Seaway Administrator Craig Middlebrooke says is incremental growth compared to overall tonnage a year ago, “It’s definitely growth, moving along better. Here in the month of October we’re up 1.4%. That’s what we see for the end of the year. It’s going to be a strong last six weeks of the season.”
Middlebrooke says grain has been the most challenging this year, down slightly because of drought but that’s having a late season surge. He says exports of low-sulfur coal from the western United States and more steel demand from overseas are also good signs, “What we anticipate for the 2013 season is building on where we’re at right here.”
The Port of Duluth-Superior handles the most salty traffic on the Great Lakes. Spokeswoman Adele Yorde says international trade can be volatile these days, “What China and Europe are doing with coal use and what their demand for steel will be over there. People talk about the fiscal cliff here in the U.S., I’m not so sure things aren’t as precarious in some of those other nations.”
Forty five salties have called on Duluth-Superior so far this year, down from 50 a year ago and half of the 104 overseas ships from 2010.