Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes
totaled 2.7 million tons in July, a slight increase – 63,000 tons – compared to
June, but a drop of 12.4 percent compared to a year ago, according to the Lake Carriers' Association.
Loadings fell 30.5 percent more when compared to the month’s five-year average, the association said.
Only one port range – Lake Michigan –
registered an increase over last year at 37.7 percent. Loadings at Lake Superior
docks fell 13.3 percent and shipments from Lake Erie terminals were down more
than 28 percent.
Year-to-date the Great Lakes coal trade
stands at 11.6 million tons, a decrease of 8.7 percent compared to a year
ago. However, loadings are more than 28 percent behind their five-year
average for the January-July timeframe.
The decline in coal volumes underscores the fundamental shift underway in the U.S. energy market that is also heavily impacting railroads
as utilities increasingly turn to cheaper, cleaner, abundant natural gas.
(Read about limestone and iron ore volumes on the Great Lakes here
.) - Eric Kulisch