Shipping season closes at Thunder Bay

Potash shipments helped make for a busy year at the Port of Thunder Bay.  | Reuters/David Stobbe photo

Last year’s 7.3 million tonnes in grain volumes were below the previous year but above the five-year average

Another shipping season has come to an end at the Port of Thunder Bay.

The last grain vessel of the 2017 shipping season, CSL Laurentian, left port Jan. 4.

Port officials said total grain volumes for the 2017 season were 7.3 million tonnes.

That’s slightly below the 7.5 million tonnes shipped in 2016 but higher than the port’s five-year average of 7.1 million tonnes.

Total cargoes were estimated at 8.84 million tonnes, well above the port’s five-year average of 8.29 million.

Grain shipments typically account for 85 to 90 percent of the port’s total cargo volumes.

Despite slightly lower grain shipments in 2017, the port had a busy year.

Potash volumes exceeded 526,000 tonnes in 2017, up sharply from the 332,000 tonnes shipped a year earlier.

The port’s five-year-average for potash is 286,000 tonnes.

The last time potash shipments exceeded 525,000 tonnes was 2007.

As many as five vessels are expected to anchor at Thunder Bay this winter.

Those ships, combined with larger-than-usual grain stocks at the port as of late December, suggest that shipping activity could increase quickly in 2018, once navigation routes re-open.

The Thunder Bay shipping season usually begins in late March or early April, depending on weather and ice conditions.

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