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“The comparison is somewhat problematic, as the locks at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, stayed open until January 18 in 2012 but closed on January 15 this year,” the group said.
“The extra three days in 2012 were necessary to allow cargoes to move that had been delayed by weather,” it added.
“A storm this January could have justified a similar extension. US-flag lakers [USA-registered vessels] lost more than 300 hours to heavy weather and then a jam-up at Lake Superior loading port,” it said.
“At least one iron ore cargo was cancelled for fear the vessel would not be able to reach the locks by the required time,” it explained.
A total of 2.93 million tonnes was shipped from US Great Lakes ports in January 2013, compared with 3.58 million tonnes for the same month in 2012.
Iron ore shipments on the North American Great Lakes totalled 3.2 million tons in January, a year-on-year decrease of 11%, according to the Lake Carriers’ Assn.