THUNDER BAY – Port activity was up in June compared to the same period last year, according to the Port Authority, largely due to a strong month of potash and general cargo shipments.
“Potash has been extremely strong. We’ve already shipped the whole year’s average amount by the end of June,” said Tim Heney, CEO of Thunder Bay Port Authority. “That’s a result of the Ukraine situation, trying to make up for shipments out of Russia and Ukraine.”
Ocean-going vessels exported more than 150,000 metric tons of potash from Thunder Bay handling facilities for a second consecutive month with destinations including ports in Europe, South America, and North Africa.
At Keefer Terminal, project cargo continued its strong presence at the port, with wind turbine components that were imported for Western Canadian wind farm projects including 88 large windmill tower sections, which are being staged at Keefer’s intermodal yard and will be railed west.
“A lot more people work on these kinds of project shipments than grain shipments,” said Heney. “It creates jobs in Thunder Bay.”
And grain shipments had a modest rebound, with volumes topping the same month last year for the first time this season.
Year-to-date shipments of grain are down by 1 million metric tons compared to last year, a result of the poor prairie grain harvest in 2021.
“The harvest last year was 40 per cent below normal. So that was the drought we experienced last summer,” said Heney. “That’s very unfortunate given the grain market right now, prices are very strong, demand is very strong and the eastern markets that we serve as well, that will come into play later this fall.”
According to the Port Authority, stronger grain production is predicted for this year, which should result in higher port shipments beginning this fall.