Port of Thunder Bay capitalizes on extended seaway season

Another shipping season has concluded at the Port of Thunder Bay in northern Ontario.

The final vessel of the season left the port on Jan. 13.

The MV Kaministiqua left Thunder Bay for Windsor, Ont., with a load of canola from the Prairies.

Kaministiqua was one of 65 vessels to call at the port in December, a record-setting month for Thunder Bay.

The port’s previous record for December was 49 vessels. 

The 2018 shipping season was a long one, extending into mid-January thanks to mild winter conditions that delayed ice cover.

The port’s 2017 shipping season ended on Dec. 13, a full month earlier.

In a news release, port officials said shipping facilities at Thunder Bay demonstrated “capability and efficiency in December.”

Nearly 1.5 million tonnes of cargo were handled during the month, the port’s third-best busiest in the last 20 years.

Prairie-grown grain accounted for the majority of the port’s late-season handlings.

Large grain volumes in December brought the port’s annual grain haul to 7.4 million tonnes, up from 7.3 million in 2017.

Annual shipments of coal and potash from Western Canada were strong as well, the port authority said.

Total tonnages of all bulk cargoes were listed at 8.73 million tonnes in 2018, down slightly from 8.8 million tonnes in 2017.

The port’s general cargo facility handled a variety of cargoes, ranging from structural steel and rail to windmills to modular buildings. 

The general cargo facility is in the midst of a $15 million reconfiguration project, which will include a new rail yard and an expansion of heated storage capacity.

Project completion is slated for 2020.

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