Great Lakes Iron Ore Shipping Totals Surpass Last Year’s

Shipments Moving Through Duluth-Superior Ports Are Down, However

An iron ore freighter waiting to be loaded at a dock in Marquette, Michigan. Photo: Joe Ross (CC-BY-NC-NC).

While iron ore shipments moving through the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior are down compared to last year at this time, shipments are up on the Great Lakes overall.

Lakers shipped 5.9 million tons of iron ore on the lakes in November, putting shipments to date at roughly 53.2 million tons. Shipments were down about 1 million tons from October, but Lake Carriers Association Vice President Glen Nekvasil said that overall, the numbers are up over last year.

“For the first time this year, we have finally here in November shaken off the effects of that brutal winter,” he said.

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Nekvasil said they spent around $6 million repairing ice damage to boats this year. Once the snow melted, he says higher water levels helped lakers carry more cargo. Shipments are still down about 5 percent from 2012.

Meanwhile, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority has seen around 28.7 million tons of iron ore pass through the Duluth/Superior port as of October. Numbers haven’t been released yet for November, though they’re due out next week. Around 29.4 million tons came through the port last year.

Facilities Manager Jim Sharrow said that last winter’s ice and rail delays have had the most impact on shipping. Sharrow said they saw some iron ore delivered by truck for shipment.

“That’s a very expensive undertaking. It takes four or five days to equal one train load,” said Sharrow.

Sharrow said they expect iron ore shipments to grow.