Coal moves on the Great Lakes still depressed in April

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.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.