The Lake Carriers’ Association, which represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes ice, said only three coal cargos were loaded so far this season starting in March -- one on Lake Superior, one on Lake Michigan and one on Lake Erie.
The association said its members’ vessels are encountering ice “sometimes more than 4-feet thick in places.”
Combined, the cargos totaled 102,000 tons, a decrease of 70 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to the month’s five-year average, March loadings were down more than 80 percent.
Year-to-date, the Lakes' coal trade stands at 475,000 tons, a decrease of 16 percent compared to a year ago, but 54 percent below the long-term average for the first quarter.