Skip to content

Weak grain harvests affect port shipments

The Port of Thunder Bay’s overall tonnage for September was down 22.8 per cent.
Keefer Terminal
a Ship being loaded at Keefer Terminal

THUNDER BAY – The Port of Thunder Bay’s overall tonnage for September was down 22.8 percent compared to the same month a year ago, and it’s year-to-date numbers are just below the five year average.

The port handled 774,316 tonnes of cargo, including 640,037 tonnes of grain, a 31.6 percent decrease from the 935,881 tonnes of grain it handled in 2020.

The year-to-date numbers show the more than 5,442,900 tonnes of cargo has come through the port so far in 2021, which is 18.2 per cent less than last year’s total at this time, and 6.5 per cent less than the five-year average.

The Port continues to experience reduced grain shipments as the prairie harvest yield hits a 10-year low.

“The crop production analysts are predicting about a 30 per cent decrease in the overall crop production for the year, so that’s certainly impacting grain shipments at Thunder Bay and all western Canadian grain ports this fall and likely into next spring as well, until the new crop season hits,” said director of business development and communications Chris Heikkinen.

“It’s a key strategy of ours to diversify and increase marine cargo at the port of Thunder Bay, so we’re always working toward developing new lines of business and that can be seen in some of these breakbulk shipments at Keefer terminal.”

While shipment of grain is at such a low number, the amount of potash coming through the Port of Thunder Bay continues to rise with 62,670 tonnes, a 160.8 per cent increase from September 2020’s 38,977.

Canada is the largest potash producer in the world and Thunder Bay is on track to set a four-year high for potash shipments in 2021.

“Keefer Terminal has a very good contingent of breakbulk shipments coming up this fall and into the winter, as well as more fertilizer,” Heikkinen said.

“And potash shipments continue to be strong and they’re looking like we’re going to see more of that for the rest of the season as well.”

The delivery of a 220-tonne gas turbine generator was the first in the series of heavy lifts and breakbulk cargo shipments scheduled at Keefer Terminal this fall. Shipment components were loaded to truck and rail for furtherance to Western Canada.

Heikkinen also says that the number of ships coming through port this year is down about 50 ships from last year which was a bumper year for the port, but remains in line with the normal average.

Justin Hardy

About the Author: Justin Hardy

Justin Hardy is a reporter born and raised in the Northwest.
Read more


Be the first to read breaking stories. Allow browser notifications on your device. What are browser notifications?
No thanks