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Thunder Bay port on pace for 10 % improvement over last year (2 photos)

The port contributes $370 million annually to Thunder Bay's economy

THUNDER BAY — Cargo shipments through the Port of Thunder Bay this year are on track to beat last year's shipping volume by 10 per cent, and the five year-average by five per cent.

In a report issued Wednesday the Thunder Bay Port Authority said increased grain, coal and potash shipments all contributed to a strong performance in October.

Compared with October 2018, cargo volumes during the month were up about 15 per cent.

Coal and potash shipments were twice and three times higher than normal last month, respectively.

The port authority says higher canola shipments to international destinations accounted for the increase in grain cargos.

Direct exports of canola from Thunder Bay by foreign-flagged ocean-going vessels are at an all-time high.

Most of the canola exported through the Lakehead is grown in Manitoba.

Port officials say grain shipments in November have started well.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has projected a strong fall harvest, although poor weather has led to harvesting delays and some crop downgrading on the prairies.

Accumulated shipping totals for the entire season so far are 6.9 million metric tonnes, compared with 6.3 million metric tonnes by the end of October last year.

Thunder Bay is the largest export port on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Shipping-related activity contributes an estimated $370 million annually to the city's economy and directly employs 900 people.

So far this year, 313 vessels have arrived to pick up or drop off cargo, including 83 foreign boats, which is 18 more ocean-going vessels than last year in the same period.