Shipping season set to end when the Soo Locks close on Sunday night
The 2022-2023 shipping season is nearly on the books, with the Soo locks set to close on Sunday night at 11:59pm.
“It was a very different season. It started off slow, and didn’t really recover,” shared Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
Going down shipping memory lane, we’ll take you back to a very icy March.
“Lake Superior had peak ice cover on March 15th, with 80% ice cover. That’s very late. And 10 days later, the locks opened. Those first few vessels had a really hard time,” DeLuca added.
Additional ice breaking assets are needed, according to industry leaders.
Still, spring came and cargo moved along.
Iron ore seemed to lag each month. But at the end of the season, they are about 18 million tons in Duluth-Superior. That’s around the 5-year average.
Grain took a big dip, and so did coal.
But there bright spots, like cement, salt, and general cargo. General cargo can be wind turbine parts, for example.
“They support the mining and manufacturing, wind energy and power generation industries. So they’re very important to our regional economy,” DeLuca said.
Final numbers are still being crunched. But they have a good idea about what will shake out when it comes to their totals.
“What we’re going to see is something right around 30 million tons will move through our port and that’s down 8% compared to the five season average,” DeLuca said.
Plus, maritime container shipping started this season.
The port is still waiting to see which lakers will spend layup here.
The locks will reopen on March 25th.