2023 Port of Duluth-Superior Shipping Season Officially Underway

DULUTH, Minn — The Lee A. Tregurtha left the Duluth Harbor Thursday morning at 9:20 a.m. kicking off the 2023 shipping season for the Twin Ports.

It is an exciting time of year because not only do we get to enjoy all the boats coming and going, but also because of the impact shipping has on our local economy.  The shipping and cargo movements through the Port of Duluth-Superior supports 8000 jobs and 1.4 billion in economic activity annually.

This year, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority will be expanding their general cargo shipments which they brought back last year. They will also be adding 55,000 square feet of warehouse space this year, bringing the total space to over 500 thousand square feet. This will help support their supply chain and logistics options.

But, when it comes to shipping out of the Duluth Harbor, iron ore is king and though it was down slightly last year, there is optimism that the upcoming year will be a good one.

“Iron ore was down two and, about 2.3 percent last year over the five-season average which is a pretty decent year, obviously not stellar. But iron ore, January we had a great finish, December and January, but January notably was our best iron ore float for January since, I want to say 2003 when we first started electronic record keeping. So, that momentum is carrying into the season. All the operations are up, we’re expecting a good iron ore year,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director, Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

Shipping is just part of the iron ore industry here in the Northland. Even though the shipping season has been on pause for a couple of months, the miners up on the Iron Range have continued to work hard and are ready to start seeing shipments again.

“The iron mines on the Iron Range are the starting point to the steel making process, and so this is a really exciting time. It’s been a long, cold, kind of brutal winter, but the hardworking folks at the mines have really done a great job of keeping production up and we’re looking forward to 2023,” said Kristen Vake, executive director, Iron Mining Association of Minnesota.

The Soo Locks are scheduled to open on Saturday when Lake Superior will be connected to the rest of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System and we can start anticipating when the first Saltie will arrive.

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