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Grain surge eases through Port of Thunder Bay

Keefer Terminal caps strong month of steel, modules, fertilizer shipments
Ship in T-Bay
(Thunder Bay port authority photo)

The surge of grain cargoes through the Port of Thunder Bay is easing back to normal levels after a year of "remarkable grain volumes," the port authority said in a July 8 release.

Grain shipments for this year remain above average, but well behind last year’s peak volumes. The record Prairie grain stock from 2020 has been substantially moved to market due to strong rail movement to Canadian ports last fall and winter, the authority said.

Grain cargoes moved through the port in June amounted to more than 582,400 tonnes, down from the 905,240 tonnes recorded during the same month last year.

To date, the port has handled more than 2.7 million tonnes of grain in 2021, down from the 3.2 million tonnes that transitted Thunder Bay during the same period last year. The port's five-year average is more than 2.5 million tonnes.

The authority said early shipping season loadings at the port were effectively very strong; the current year-to-date grain tally is the third highest of the past 25 seasons.

Other cargos are rebounding from five-year lows experienced in 2020. Year-over-year gains were reported in June for both coal and potash shipments.

Almost 70,800 tonnes of potash moved through the port last month, compared to 16,485 tonnes during June 2020. Outbound coal shipments for June were 83,370 tonnes, up substantially from the 57,300 tonnes moved in June 2020.

Keefer Terminal, the authority said, continues to have a very strong shipping season.

Marine cargoes received last month included dimensional engines, structural steel, and pre-fab modules, capping off a strong quarter highlighted by imports of steel and phosphate fertilizer. The terminal handled more than 3,600 tonnes of general freight compared to 732 tonnes in June 2020.

Thirty-six domestic and saltwater vessels checked into the port in June, compared to 50 to June last year.