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TMCNet:  St. Lawrence Seaway Wraps Up 2012 Season

[January 14, 2013]

St. Lawrence Seaway Wraps Up 2012 Season

Winnipeg - January 14/12 - CNS, Jan 14, 2013 (Commodity News Service Canada, Inc. via COMTEX) -- Tonnage handled by the St.

Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) during the 2012 shipping season increased by 4% to 38.9 million tonnes, exceeding the SLSMC's original forecast by 300,000 tonnes thanks in part to a late season surge in grain movements.

Strong performance within a number of core markets contributed to an overall gain of 1.4 million tonnes for the year, when compared to the Seaway's 2011 result of 37.5 million tonnes, the SLSMC said in a prepared statement.

Demand for low sulphur coal in Europe led to a substantial increase in coal volumes, while busy Chinese steel mills triggered an upsurge in the demand for iron ore.

The shipments of coal and iron ore were brought to the Great Lakes and loaded on domestic Laker vessels. The Lakers then proceeded from the Great Lakes to the lower St. Lawrence River, where the commodities were trans-shipped to larger ocean vessels, for export to overseas destinations.

On the grain front, 2012 was a story of contrasts as strong Canadian grain movements offset a sharp drop in US grain movements, due to the drought which impacted the majority of the US grain belt, the SLSMC said.

A number of newly built state-of-the art vessels came into service within the Seaway in 2012, boasting sharp increases in fuel efficiency and reductions in emission levels.

The 2012 season also witnessed an important advance in navigational technology.

"The commissioning of the Draft Information System (DIS) further enhances vessel safety and efficiency", said Craig Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the US Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. "A vessel equipped with DIS can now precisely gauge the amount of water under the ship's keel, given satellite guided navigation combined with highly precise models of the channel floor." The St. Lawrence Seaway closed for the season on December 29th, 2012, with the westbound vessel John B. Aird transiting the Iroquois Lock at 8:59 p.m. After transiting the Iroquois Lock, the John B. Aird proceeded further west and served as the last vessel to transit the Seaway's Welland Canal, clearing Lock 8 at Port Colborne on December 31st at 4:23 a.m.

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