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St. Lawrence Seaway steel shipment increase due to U.S. auto industry, other factors

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MASSENA - Shipments of steel products through the St. Lawrence Seaway to U.S. ports have increased significantly this season due to demand by the U.S. automobile industry and an improving American economy.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, general cargo shipments including steel slabs and coils and aluminum totaled 872,000 metric tons from March 25 to June 30, a 44 percent increase over 2013. The steel was shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the ports of Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana-Burns Harbor and Milwaukee. The specialty steel is either further processed by U.S. manufacturers to produce fenders or internal components or sent directly to the auto assembly plants. Some steel is also used in construction.

“The Great Lakes-Seaway system is a fast and cost effective way for U.S. manufacturers to ship raw materials and specialty steel products primarily for the auto industry. With U.S. car sales as of the end of May up 11 percent year over year and the Purchasing Managers Index indicating strong growth for American factories, expectations are that steel product shipments through the Seaway will continue to be strong,” Chamber of Marine Commerce President Stephen Brooks said.

A Canadian grain rush has also helped shipping rebound considerably after a crippling start to the season due to ice coverage. However, total cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway from March 25 to June 30 were 11.1 million metric tons, down 7 per cent compared to 2013 due to decreases in iron ore exports and coal traffic.

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