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Forum News Service, Published January 27 2014

Rough weather in December puts mark on 2013 shipping season

DULUTH - Weather delays and canceled cargos limited cargo movement on the Great Lakes to just 7.1 million tons in December, which affected the tonnage total for the year.

The Lake Carriers’ Association reported last week that the 17 companies that run U.S. ships moved a total 89.2 million tons, a decrease of 0.4 percent compared to 2012.

Iron ore cargos carried in U.S.-flag lakers totaled 43.9 million tons in 2013, a decrease of 3 percent compared to 2012. Those cargos represented 75.2 percent

of all the iron ore moved on the system last year. Through November, U.S.-flag ore cargos had been just slightly behind the 2012 pace, but the brutal weather in December slashed shipments to just 4 million tons, a decrease of

21 percent compared

to December 2012.

Coal cargos totaled 18.2 million tons in 2013, an increase of 3.7 percent, and 74 percent of all Great Lakes coal last year. The total would have been higher, but several coal cargos were canceled in December.

The limestone trade also registered a slight increase over 2012. Shipments totaled 22.1 million tons, an increase of 1.5 percent, the highest volume since 2008. The 22.1 million tons also represent 80 percent of the Great Lakes stone trade.

Shipments of cement, salt, sand and grain were largely in line with 2012.

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes carrying 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.