CLEVELAND - Massive, thick ice formations on the Great Lakes limited iron ore shipments in March to 1.1 million tons, a decrease of 43 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from U.S. Great Lakes ports fell even more, 52 percent.
Some of the ore that was loaded in March did not reach its intended destination until well into April.
Two vessels that departed Duluth/Superior at the western end of Lake Superior on March 26 did not arrive in Gary, Indiana, until April 7.
Under normal circumstances, the 797-mile voyage takes about 62 hours.
An iron ore cargo loaded in Escanaba, Michigan, on March 5 destined for Cleveland, Ohio, a voyage of 545 miles, was in transit for 12 days rather than the normal 50 hours.
Through March, the Lakes ore trade stands at 3.5 million tons, a decrease of 33 percent.
The decrease would be more, but in an effort to maintain steel production, 370,000 tons of iron ore moved in February, usually a month with no shipments.
The ice on the Lakes was not the only challenge faced. The sub-zero temperatures nearly paralyzed the docks and one cargo took more than three days to load. The vessel should have been full in about 6 hours.
Lake Carriers' Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation's economy: 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.
Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year. More information is available at www.lcaships.com.