Rising water levels fail to boost Great Lakes stone trade

News – August 19, 2008

The Lake Carriers’ Association in the US says shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 4.2 million net tons in July, a decrease of 4.8 per cent compared to a year ago, and a drop of nearly 9 per cent compared to the month’s five-year average.

“Although water levels are rising, not all ports are benefitting to the same degree,” said the Association. “For example, a large integrated tug/barge unit was able to deliver 34,442 tons of stone to a customer at the southern end of Lake Michigan, yet when destined for Lake Superior docks, its cargos fell to 30,411 tons and 30,144 tons.”

The water level on Lake Superior has been rising quickly, but lack of dredging still forced the vessel to lightload by 4,000 tons or more.

For the year, the Lakes limestone trade stands at 16 million tons, a decrease of 4.4 per cent compared to the same point in 2007. Shipments are more than 10 per cent behind the five-year average for the January-July timeframe.