Duluth Seaway Port Having a Good Year

DULUTH, Minn. — The Duluth Seaway Port started this season sluggishly, according to Jason Hron, the director of communications for the port, but since then it’s been improving.

“It was a slow start to the season this year in terms of total tonnage, but each month since mid-summer the total has been closing that gap and it’s been improving and getting closer to that 5-season average” said Hron.

Iron ore is the leading cargo each year. On average, iron ore accounts for 50 percent of the total tonnage shipped. “It’s been a fairly good year for Iron Ore” Rhon says.  “November was a very good month for iron Ore. Almost 2 million short tons of iron ore transited the port in November. So pretty strong season fairly close to the 5-season average in terms of iron ore tonnage.”

Last year, winter wheat and Durham wheat shipments were the second lowest in the 85-year history of the port. Drought was a major factor, this year it’s better but still behind average and it’s not the weather that’s keeping grain shipments lower. Instead, “what we’ve seen this year is that a lot of that grain has been transporting the port in trains rather than ships. So, it is all due to economy of scale and the challenges and dynamic nature of grain shipping. ”

The shipping season will officially end January 15th when the Soo Locks close. Whether the Port Authority’ total tonnage finishes slightly above or below its average, it will not affect the importance the port has on the community as a whole.

“Great Lakes Shipping supports about 8000 jobs in the community and 1.4 billion dollars in business revenues each season,” said Rhon.

There are currently four ships being loaded in the harbor. This late in the season, it’s likely that there will be just one more ship arriving that will travel to the Atlantic Ocean. Other ships that will be coming and going in the harbor will be traveling only in the Great Lakes through mid-January.

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