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Project cargo growth at Great Lakes

November 14 - The Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway System saw a steady flow of traditional cargoes, with project loads and grain shipments dominating the cargo mix, during October, according to Betty Sutton, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Develo

"Last month, shipments of aluminium, steel, generators, crane components, iron ore and containerised goods moved in the system," said Sutton, adding that the majority of export cargoes were bulk consignments.

Many of the ships that traded in the system this month will most likely make one last call before the end of the 2016 navigation season.

October saw Duluth Seaway Port Authority's USD18 million dock redevelopment project come to an end, almost tripling the Clure Public Marine Terminal's outdoor storage capacity and doubling its heavy lift cargo handling capabilities.

David Gutheil, vice president, maritime and logistics at the Port of Cleveland, added that the gateway continues to make "positive gains" in the project cargo market, despite the challenges presented in the traditional non-containerised steel sector.

"In October, we handled multiple large project cargo moves from Europe, one of which consisted of multiple presses from Germany for the automotive industry. The other project comprised of multiple pieces for a new natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant (CCPP) that will be built in northeast Ohio. The largest piece weighs in excess of 300 tonnes, and is the heaviest piece of project cargo that has moved through the Port of Cleveland in over a decade."

Rick Heimann, port director at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, added that steel-related cargoes continued to be a primary driver for its 2016 shipments, and he expects to see a surge in steel product moves before the end of the year. "Based on current projections, November could prove to be a near record month, especially for Seaway cargoes," he suggested.

The Port of Milwaukee, meanwhile, took delivery of a new 300-tonne capacity Manitowoc crawler, which will increase its capabilities for handling project cargo.

"With arrivals at the port scheduled well into December, we are likely to see both steel and agricultural products well ahead of last year's volumes," said port director Paul Vornholt.

Overall, the St Lawrence Seaway reported that cargo shipments for the period covering March 21 to October 31 totalled 25.8 million tonnes - down 5.23 percent over the same period in 2015.

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