Year-to-date grain shipments through Ontario's Port of Thunder Bay are sharply lower than they were a year ago, the port authority said this week.
Thunder Bay's total grain shipments from Jan. 1, 2021 to through the end of August were just a shade more than four million tonnes, the port authority said in a news release.
That's a million tonnes lower than last year, but still slightly higher than the previous five-year average of 3.965 million tonnes.
"Year-to-date grain shipments are now one million metric tonnes lower than last year's 25-year high volume, marking a return to normal volumes," the port authority said.
Thunder Bay also registered an unusual inbound grain shipment, something seldom seen there.
"A rare inbound grain cargo was delivered to Richardson's Current River elevator in August," the port said.
"The shipment of 12,000 metric tonnes of wheat originated from Richardson's Hamilton (Ont.) terminal and is destined for Manitoba feedlots…."
Thunder Bay grain terminals typically load out about eight million tonnes of grain annually, but records of inbound grain shipments are non-existent.
The recent inbound shipment from Hamilton was necessitated by a shortage of Manitoba grown cattle feed, impacted by high temperatures and poor soil moisture this growing season.
The port said the inbound delivery demonstrates the adaptability of the port and the seaway system to "efficiently meet unique customer needs."
"Grain production analysts are predicting significant reductions in production on the Prairies due to extreme heat, drought, and grasshopper damage," the port said.
"This will likely impact port tonnage through the second half of the season, when cargo volumes are typically driven by harvesting activity."
Thunder Bay's Keefer Terminal handled its largest ever shipment of European steel rail in 2021, the port authority added.
Steel imports at Keefer began six years ago, enabling the western Canadian construction industry to access European-manufactured rail and structural steel via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Steel cargo volumes at Keefer are expected to double this year over last, signalling strong construction demand in the West.
Bulk potash exports are also showing strength, with year-to-date volumes now above average.
Thunder Bay is home to the only potash export facility on the Great Lake –St. Lawrence system.
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