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St. Lawrence Seaway steel shipment boost largely due to U.S. auto industry

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MASSENA - A large jump in steel product shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway this season has been due to a demand from the U.S. automobile industry among other factors.

According to a news release sent out by the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the shipments to ports of Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana-Burns Harbor and Milwaukee, have also been to do the improving American economy.

“In addition to an upbeat auto industry and an improving economy, robust oil and gas industries depend upon manufactured iron and steel goods,” St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation spokeswoman Nancy T. Alcalde said.

General cargo shipments, including steel slabs and coils and aluminum, totaled 872,000 metric tons from March 25 to June 30, according to the Seaway Corporation.

This represented a 44 percent spike from 2013.

“We are seeing exports as well as imports. Advance notifications from industries suggested 2014 would be a good year, and we’re heading in that direction,” Ms. Alcalde said. “An example is that 20 high value GE locomotives have been shipped through the Seaway to Mozambique and 30 more are set to leave this summer. Wind component movements to Duluth and Muskegon are on the rise. The new liner service between Cleveland and Antwerp has also resulted in new cargo tonnage for this navigation season.”

A Canadian grain rush has also been a factor to the increase, according to the Marine Commerce’s release. “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,” it read.

Ms. Alcalde said that the Seaway Corporation is expecting the steel shipments increase to continue in the foreseeable future.

“The slow start to the navigation season was due to the lengthy winter that lasted well into April. We expect cargo tonnage to continue to increase for the remainder of 2014 and improve upon last year’s tonnage performance,” she said.

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