July 22, 2016 9:35 AM, EDT

Cargo Traffic Declines on St. Lawrence Seaway

St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

Year-to-date ship traffic on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system has been slower than expected in 2016, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

The corporation reports that between the shipping season’s start on March 21 and June 30, cargo shipments were down 7.6% from the same time period a year ago, reaching 9.9 million metric tons.

“Although the overall cargo numbers remain down when compared to the same time frame last year, in June we were above the five-year average,” Betty Sutton, administrator of the Seaway corporation, said in a statement. “Imports arriving in the Great Lakes Seaway System kept longshoremen busy during the month of June.”

She said about 45 ships arrived from 19 different countries, carrying high-value cargo such as windmill components, machinery, aluminum ingots, steel, sugar and general cargo.

Prior to leaving the system, vessels loaded export cargo that consisted of wheat, soybeans, potash and general cargo loaded in containers, Sutton said.

Zelko Kirincich, executive director of the Port of Oswego, said the port received a shipment of aluminum totaling 10,500 metric tons in June. It was delivered by a barge bound for the Novelis plant in Oswego for use in the automotive sector.

“We expect to see more activity at the port in July and August,” Kirincich said.

Along the Seaway so far this year, the dry bulk category is down nearly 8%, but cement, potash and scrap metal are up at 10%, 28% and 88%, respectively. Iron ore is down 18%, and coal is down nearly 17%. While the general cargo category was down 8%, steel was up 108%.