Lakes Ore Trade Off to Slowest Start in Five Years Clear Need for More Icebreakers
CLEVELAND — Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled an anemic 800,000 tons in March, the lowest level for the month since 2010. The March ore float was also nearly 60 percent below the month’s 5-year average.
Heavy ice and lack of icebreaking resources on both sides of the border were the culprits. “The winter of 2014/2015 was again brutal,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association. “The ice formations were so formidable that a number of LCA’s members chose to delay getting underway rather than risk a repeat of last spring when ice caused more than $6 million in damage to the vessels. Compounding the problem is that both U.S. and Canadian icebreakers have experienced a number of mechanical issues. The MACKINAW, the U.S. Coast Guard’s most powerful icebreaker, is operating at less than full power. Other icebreakers have suffered casualties that have taken them out of service for various periods of time.”