Tonnage moving on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 2012 navigation season totaled 38.9 million tonnes, 4 percent more than the prior year.
Canada's St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC), which manages the seaway in conjunction with the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., said demand for low-sulphur coal in Europe led to a substantial increase in coal volumes, while Chinese steel mills triggered an upsurge in the demand for iron ore. Coal and iron ore move from the Great Lakes on Canadian ships to the lower St. Lawrence River, where it is transloaded onto larger ocean vessels for transport to overseas destinations.
Strong Canadian grain movements offset a drop in U.S. grain movements, due to the drought which impacted the majority of the U.S. grain belt.
Terence Bowles, president and chief executive officer of the SLSMC, said the seaway "was instrumental in providing grain shippers with the means to rapidly respond and capitalize on market opportunities late in the season."
The St. Lawrence Seaway closed for the season on Dec. 29 with the westbound vessel John B. Aird
transiting the Iroquois Lock at 8:59 p.m. After transiting the Iroquois Lock, the ship proceeded further west and served as the last vessel to transit the Seaway’s Welland Canal, clearing Lock 8 at Port Colborne on Dec. 31 at 4:23 a.m. - Chris Dupin