Breakbulk Spurs Duluth-Superior Growth

(Americas) Ten-fold Increase in Project Cargo

The Port of Duluth-Superior has reported growth in cargo volumes for the 2019 shipping season, with volumes exceeding 33.5 tonnes.

The growth was driven by a 10-fold increase in project cargoes, breakbulk and heavy-lift industrial pieces. Transport for the nascent wind energy sector was a key driver, with a single-season record of 306,000 freight tons of cargo handled by the Clure Public Marine Terminal in 2019.
“Despite some headwinds, it was a solid tonnage season for the Port of Duluth-Superior, and record-breaking for wind energy cargo,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

Upbeat Outlook

The record cargoes were aided by completion of the expanded CN Duluth Intermodal Terminal in June. This new facility increased capacity throughthe addition of almost 800 meters of new railroad track and six acres of paved storage space.

The port authority also reported the highest number of overseas vessels arriving in the port since 2010, with 85 docking at Duluth-Superior during the 2019 shipping season, .

“Looking ahead, we have reason for optimism in 2020, with the prospect of greater international trade certainty and more project cargo scheduled to arrive. The outlook is mostly upbeat,” DeLuca added.

Trade Conflicts Bites   

Situated 2,342 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, the port connects to the westernmost edge of the St. Lawrence Seaway System. Acting as a multimodal hub for the waterway, the port also handles the highest tonnage of any port on the Great Lakes.

“Examining the St. Lawrence Seaway as a whole, one year removed from its best season in more than a decade, international shipping volume through the Seaway declined 6.4 percent in 2019. Contributing factors included international trade conflicts, crop-hindering weather and challenging navigational conditions due to high water levels,” the DSPA states.

Thanks to improved infrastructure, the port has boosted its role in vessel maintenance, announcing that six domestic vessels will undergo maintenance over the winter season in advance of the scheduled reopening of the Soo Locks on March 25.