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Winter puts the Port of Thunder Bay on ice

Northwest Ontario harbour records 9.3 million tonnes in freight moved for 2019 shipping season
Ships at anchor

The 2019 shipping season is over for the Port of Thunder Bay. The last cargo-laden vessel departed Jan.12.

A Jan. 13 Port of Thunder Bay news release said the season featured higher cargo shipments in some categories than the past several years.

The port’s cargo tonnage for the year was close to 9.3 million tonnes, the highest since 2014.

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Western Canadian-grown grain volumes increased by 500,000 tonnes as Thunder Bay elevators handled large quantities of canola destined for European and South American markets. Total grain cargo movements finished at more than 7.9 million tonnes.

Coal tonnage hit a seven-year high at close to 780,000 tonnes. Potash shipments remained above average for a third straight year, posting more than 399,500 tonnes.

Year-end stats recorded 316 Canadian-registered and 113 foreign vessel stops in the port this past season. No American-flagged vessels visited the port in 2019.

Three Canadian vessels will winter at Keefer Terminal.

The port authority is projecting another strong season in 2020 with scheduled shipments of wind turbine components for Western Canadian wind farm developments.

“Thunder Bay grain terminals continue to set the bar for efficiency, producing the fastest rail car and vessel turnaround times of all Western Canadian grain ports,” said the release.

The locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., close for winter maintenance on Jan.15.