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Ocean Vessel Traffic Boosting Cargo Volumes as Season-end Nears

The Port of Thunder Bay had very high ocean vessel traffic in the month of November, a trend that is continuing in December and making for a strong end to the shipping season. Twenty ocean vessels – commonly referred to as ‘salties’ – called the Port in November to load or unload with internationally-trading cargo. This is the highest number of salties to visit the Port in any single month since 2015.

Salties typically load grain in Thunder Bay after bringing steel into lower lakes ports through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Grain exported from Thunder Bay in November is en route to international ports in France, Egypt, Dominican Republic and North Africa, among others.

Total cargo volumes in November were slightly lower than last year, but a rebound is expected before the season closes in mid-January. Strong saltie traffic, aided by milder weather than last December, will help to boost volumes. The final month of the season is expected to be the busiest of the year, with a projected 1.4 million metric tonnes of cargo to be handled. That would be a 25% increase over last December, due mainly to higher grain shipments this time around. Annual 2018 grain volumes are anticipated to be slightly higher than the final tally in 2017.

The Port of Thunder Bay is anticipating a total of 400 vessel calls for the season, which is also slightly higher than the 393 calls in 2017.