The Port of Thunder Bay today reported mixed results through the first two months of the shipping season. While grain shipments are well below average, there has been a substantial increase in potash volumes. Inbound shipments of general cargo at Keefer Terminal are also strong. Total traffic amounted to 1.5 million metric tons versus the year-earlier 2.4 million tons.
Grain shipments through the end of May decreased by 1 million metric tons year-over-year, totaling 1.1 million tons. The Prairies were impacted by drought and severe heat in 2021, resulting in poor crop yields. Year-to-date railcar unloads of grain in Thunder Bay are down 32%, compared with a 48% decrease at the West Coast ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert.
Shipments of Western Canadian potash have quadrupled compared to the same period last year. Terminals in Thunder Bay have loaded out 280,000 metric tons of potash in less than two months; this is half of the port’s yearly average. Canada is the world’s largest exporter of potash. Thunder Bay, the only export port on the Seaway for potash, handles shipments moving to Europe, North Africa, and South America.
General cargo shipments were strong through the first two months of the season. Keefer Terminal handled over ten thousand metric tons of steel pipe and rail, in addition to a shipment of wind turbine tower sections. Keefer’s large laydown area is a unique port asset that helps attract western-bound general cargo to the Seaway-Thunder Bay route. (Port of Thunder Bay photo)