U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters moved 7.3 million tons of cargo in April, an increase of 9.7 percent compared to a year ago. The April float was also 7 percent above the month’s 5-year average.
Iron ore cargos for the steel industry totaled 4.4 million tons, an increase of 30 percent compared to a year ago. However, coal shipments to power plants and steel mills slipped to 1.2 million tons, a decrease of 11 percent. Limestone loads for construction projects and steel production totaled 1.4 million tons, a decrease of two or three boatloads.
Although water levels on all five Great Lakes are currently above long-term average, freighters are still not carrying full loads. The largest coal cargo shipped in April totaled 69,378 tons, but Class X lakers (the U.S.-flag 1,000-footers) have carried as much as 70,903 tons of coal in a single voyage. Year-to-date U.S.-flag carriage stands at 11.4 million tons, an increase of 9 percent compared to the same point in 2015. Iron ore cargos are up 24 percent, but coal cargos have dipped 28 percent. Limestone shipments are virtually tied with a year ago.
Lake Carriers’ Association represents 14 American companies that operate 56 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 100 million tons of cargo per year. More information is available at lcaships.com.