Record Year for Duluth-Superior
On Monday the Duluth Seaway Port Authority reports that record export cargoes led to a record volume of total international trade in 1999 in the Port of Duluth-Superior.
Western coal shipments to Canada and unexpectedly strong worldwide grain shipments pushed all international commerce to 12.1 million metric tons, three percent above Duluth-Superior's 1978 record of 11.8 million tons and eight percent above 1998's 11.2 million tons.
Including domestic Great Lakes cargo, all waterborne commerce through the port totaled 39.4 million metric tons, about two percent above 1998's final totals and three percent above the port's five-year average.
The surge of exports-a record-setting 11.5 million tons-offset a decline in domestic shipping. Final domestic cargoes totaled 27.3 million tons, a decline of two percent attributable primarily to reduced iron ore demand and a drop in Great Lakes water levels.
The port's export record had been 10.5 million tons in 1998-which was the highest level reached since 1978's 10.3 million tons.
Midwest Energy Resources Company registered its sixth consecutive record-breaking year of low-sulfur coal shipments. Its Superior facility moved 14.7 million metric tons, including 2.9 million tons to Canadian customers. MERC first set a port coal-handling record in 1994 with 12.15 million metric tons, toppling a standard dating back more than seven decades-when all of Duluth-Superior's coal was inbound.
Grain movements of 5.3 million tons were 10 percent ahead of the 4.8 million tons handled in 1998. Exports included 2.9 million tons shipped directly overseas and two million tons transshipped overseas via Canada.
The Pioneer Press reports that the world market has been flooded with grain during the past two
years. But unusual circumstances -- including unexpectedly high
Mississippi River barge rates -- have sent a large number of
vessels into the Great Lakes to pick up wheat, corn and
Despite a three percent decline in iron ore shipments (from 16. 3 million tons in 1998 to 15.9 million tons in 1999), Northeastern Minnesota's taconite industry produced 43 million tons of iron ore pellets in 1999. In addition to Duluth-Superior, iron ore is routed to U.S. and Canadian destinations via rail and the Lake Superior ports of Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Taconite Harbor.
Altogether, iron ore represented 40 percent of port commerce, coal 37 percent and grain 14 percent-nearly all outbound. The largest single inbound cargo was limestone at about six percent.
The season's first commercial vessel arrival was Oglebay Norton Company's Columbia Star on March 26. Algoma Central Corporation's Algosound was 1999's first full Seaway transit, arriving April 8.
The season's last vessel to transit the Seaway was the Hong Kong-flag Lady Hamilton which departed on December 20-marking the Port's second-latest departure of an oceangoing vessel since the Seaway opening. The record final Seaway departure was the Liberian-flag Federal Calumet on December 22, 1984.
The last domestic vessel to leave Duluth-Superior was Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Stewart J. Cort, departing January 13. Interlake Steamship Company's Lee A. Tregurtha officially closed the season January 15 with her arrival for winter berthing.
Total vessel arrivals of 1,122 showed an increase of 16 from last year. There were 653 U.S.-flag, 281 Canadian-flag and 188 overseas vessels visiting the Port.