Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 2.2 million tons in April, down 3.8% compared to a year ago, but, when compared to its five-year average, the trade was down nearly 27%.
Loadings in April at Lake Superior ports increased by nearly 10%, but shipments from Chicago fell by a third, said the Lake Carriers’ Association in a May 7 statement. Lake Erie ports were off 12.3%, or 90,000 tons.
Year-to-date, the Great Lakes coal trade stands at 3.3 million tons, a decrease of 8.7% compared to a year ago. Loadings are 31% behind the five-year average for the January-April timeframe.
Primary reasons for the depressed coal moves in the short term include low coal-fired power demand in the U.S., and over the long-term the fact that Ontario Power Generation is shutting down Lake-served coal plants on a schedule that terminates in 2014.
The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry various raw materials, including coal and iron ore.