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Great Lakes-Seaway News' purpose is to provide news, critical information updates, and thoughtful commentary to those who care about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System specifically, and the maritime industry in general. It is important that Great Lakes-Seaway News also become a forum and online meeting place so that ideas can be presented, issues can be debated and relationships can be made to advance the seaway system’s interests for now and for the future.

Therefore, Great Lakes Seaway News will serve as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System's newspaper, its online bulletin board, its meeting place for innovation and discussion, and its clubhouse for the development of plans and activities which will serve those who participate in the online marketplace of ideas.

Great Lakes-Seaway News is an independent publication and as such, is not affiliated in any way with the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or any other agencies of the governments of the United States of America or Canada. 

Great Lakes-Seaway News is a publication of PRI Strategy Management, Inc.  All rights reserved.


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International Tonnage Increase At Port of Milwaukee Recognized

Earlier today Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett formally accepted the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation's (SLSDC) Pacesetter Award, recognizing the Port of Milwaukee for an increase in the volume of international cargo moved by the port in 2014.

SLSDC Administrator Betty Sutton, presented the award at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association at the Port of Milwaukee offices on the Lake Michigan lakefront.

“The Port of Milwaukee serves the local economy by providing an efficient transportation route for incoming raw materials and outgoing finished products,” Mayor Barrett said.  “And the local businesses that benefit from commerce at the Port create jobs and economic activity in and around our city.”

The Port of Milwaukee saw increases in the amount of international cargo in several categories during 2014 including steel and grain.  In fact, the Port handled the second largest tonnage of steel in its history last year.  The number of foreign vessels arriving at the Port of Milwaukee last year was up by more than 20%. 

One unusual category of cargo arrived from overseas last year, salt.  That commodity is traditionally sourced from mines on the Great Lakes.  The Port of Milwaukee was able to respond to the high demand for deicing salt with shiploads from Morocco, Venezuela, and Egypt delivered via the St. Lawrence Seaway. 

“Many factors affect the volume of cargo that moves through Milwaukee’s Port. The global economy, currency exchange rates, friendly completion among Great Lakes ports, and competing modes of transportation all play roles international shipping trends,” Port Director Paul Vornholt said.  “One thing that remains constant is the Port of Milwaukee’s commitment to efficient and dependable service to those who rely on us.”

The Port of Milwaukee is an economic entity of City government governed by the seven-member Board of Harbor Commissioners, a panel appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Common Council.  It administers operations on the 467 acres that make up the Port.  It promotes shipping and commerce throughout the region by providing access to domestic and international ships, rail, and over-the-road transportation.   


Dry Bulk Freight Rates Slide on China News

Just a little more than a month ago it appeared that the dry bulk sector of the global freight market was showing signs of recovery. 

In late July and early August, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), a survey of various dry-bulk freight rates, steadily climbed above 1100 points, led by an increase in rates for Cape-size ships which saw daily charter rates of as much as $15, 894 per day. 

The earnings of Cape-size vessels had improved dramatically from earlier this year when daily charter rates averaged at $4,00 per day. 

But in the dry-bulk freight market a lot can change in a month, or even a few days.

China sent markets into turmoil earlier this month when it revealed an 8.3% decline in its June export figures. In an attempt to slow its export picture slump, Beijing decided to devalue the Chinese currency, the yuan. 

Within days of the yuan devaluation, it was revealed that in July, Chinese factory activity shrank at the fastest rate in more than six years.

The Cape-size dry bulk market, which was propelling the fledgling dry-bulk recovery, began a downward spiral after the bad economic news from China.

This week the average spot Cape-size rate fell by $1,024 to $10,085 per day, just little more than half the average daily TC-rate in early August. The Baltic Capesize Index was down 156 points at 1,403 points.

The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) has now slid back under the 1,000 point level, having hit a year high of 1,222 points on 5 August. On Monday the BDI lost a further 26 points to close at 968 points.

The continued fall of the dry bulk market comes at time of turmoil in a wide range of global financial and commodity markets as concerns relating to the slowing Chinese economy have come to the fore.

In report last Friday, Bimco analyst Peter Sand warned that slowing Chinese steel production would push world crude steel production down 2.1 percent for the first seven months of the year of at 945.8m tonnes. China accounts for 50% of world steel production.  China is heading for its first annual decline in crude steel production since 1981.

The steep decline in global freight rates may boost St. Lawrence Seaway traffic volumes in the final months of the 2015 navigation season as owners and operators may find the longer Seaway voyage times more attractive than trying to find other cargos in a slowing freight demand environment and the Seaway freight market remains somewhat protected from freight demand issues in China.  


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MacArthur Lock Reopened After Repairs

The MacArthur Lock, at Sault Ste. Marie, MI was reopened earlier this week after reparis were made on a faulty gate mechanism.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the MacArthur Lock and Poe Lock originally estimated the repairs would force the closure of the lock for 10 days, but "the heavy work and complicated repairs took 20 days," according to a Corps spokesman.

The Corps replaced the original anchorage linkage from the lock's construction in 1943. The Corps said 103 ships were delayed a total of 166 hours due to the MacArthur Lock closure. The closure was considered a major headache for the Great Lakes shipping companies, which held ships at dock facilities around the lakes to minimize waiting time in Sault Ste. Marie.

During the closure, all vessel traffic was routed through the Poe Lock. The MacArthur and Poe locks are the only two at the Soo that freighters use to transit between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.

Although there are two other locks built in the St. Mary's River, one, Davis, is seldom used, and the other, Sabin, was permanently decommissioned in 2010.


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