Mid-season shipping update during the pandemic

Updated: September 17, 2020 06:09 PM

After an early summer surge, maritime tonnage through the Port of Duluth-Superior slowed atypically in August, amidst a tepid recovery from COVID-induced lows. That's according to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.


Total tonnage stood 31 percent behind the 2019 pace through Aug. 31, driven primarily by declines in coal and iron ore tonnage.

"We are recovering, and the blast furnace production is going up again. But we're still not going to be able to make up what we lost," shared Deb DeLuca, the executivve director of the port authority.

But the good news is outbound grain and inbound wind cargos are up. They've had nine ships arrive already, with more expected, carrying all or portions of 176 wind turbines for projects in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

“If this pandemic-plagued shipping season was a prospector’s pan, there’d be a lot of black sand and only a few golden nuggets. But even a few golden nuggets are cause for excitement, and we’re certainly pleased to see strong grain numbers and potentially record-setting success with wind cargoes," DeLuca said.

The ships have been very careful during COVID, as they know their industry must keep goods flowing.

For now, the port looks ahead to more rebound with iron ore and strong grain and wind cargoes.

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