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October was a two-million-tonne month at the Port of Thunder Bay

Overseas grain exports continue to surge into the fall
Thunder Bay port loadig grain
(Port of Thunder Bay Facebook photo)

The volume of Western Canadian grain heading overseas through the Port of Thunder Bay remains high.

The port authority released October numbers showing more than two million tonnes of grain went from Thunder Bay elevators onto ocean-going ships to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and North Afriica. It's a 54 per cent increase over the same month last year.

In a Nov. 4 news release, the authority said these exports complement the 4.9 million tonnes of grain shipped to other Seaway and Great Lakes ports, much of which is transferred to larger saltwater vessels for export from the St. Lawrence River.

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The grain surge through the port has been triggered by the European Union countries increasingly sourcing more canola from Canada. Last year, China placed an embargo on imports of the oilseed from this country.

The authority expects more than 150 ocean-going ships to load in Thunder Bay before the shipping season closes for the winter, a 20-year high. One hundred, twenty-two "salties" have reached Thunder Bay to date, compared to 83 during the same period in 2019.

The port authority said the rise in grain shipments this season has helped offset decreases in bulk shipments of coal and potash.

At Keefer Terminal, general cargo shipments remain on par with last year despite delays of incoming project cargoes from abroad reaching the northwestern Ontario port due to the pandemic. Last month, shipments of structural steel and steel rail were discharged at the terminal for delivery to Western Canada.