The Port of Thunder Bay is now armed with some heavy-duty cargo-handling capability.
Local port authority officials and dignitaries cut the ribbon on a new Liebherr LHM 320 mobile crane which arrived at Keefer Terminal over the summer.
The crane was loaded aboard the MV BBC Delaware in California, July 13, and transited the Panama Canal, up the U.S. Eastern seaboard and into the St. Lawrence Seaway to arrive in Thunder Bay later in the month.
A Liebherr service engineer from the U.S. worked with local labourers to erect the crane over the next two weeks.
With an 18-metre reach and a lifting capacity of 104 tonnes, the crane should enhance the terminal's ability to handle project cargoes such as milling equipment and components for wind farms in Western Canada.
The acquistion of the crane was a competitive move to open up the port to more diversified cargoes such as general steel and pipe.
Until this summer, the port always relied on vessels that carried its own unloading gear.
The addition of the crane appeared to have some immediate effect on volume moving through the port.
Cargo statistics in August indicated more than 2,000 tonnes of general cargo was handled at Keefer, compared to no movement of this type during the same period in 2011. More than 14,000 tonnes of general freight has passed through Thunder Bay so far this year.
With the ending of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly in Western Canadian wheat and barley in August, it's too early to tell if there will be an uptick in grain movements.
August grain shipments registered at 452,074 tonnes, down from 692,862 during the same month last year.
Cumulative cargoes through the first eight months of this year show increases of coal, potash and liquid bulk cargoes, an improvement over the same period in 2011.
Coal totalled 509,882 tonnes until the end of August, compared to 458,566 last year. Potash is up to 213,876 tonnes over last year's eight-month total of 137,276. Liquid bulk came in at 87,062 tonnes versus 57,902 tonnes last year.
Freighter traffic is slightly up at 215 vessels this year compared to 209 in 2011.