Lakes Limestone Trade Ramps Up in May
CLEVELAND—Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 3.8 million tons in May, an increase of 16.6 percent compared to a year ago, and the highest monthly total recorded since June 2012. In terms of tons, shipments from U.S. quarries registered the largest gain: 326,000 tons.
Unlike a year ago, the limestone trade was not hampered by the aftereffects of a brutal winter. The Lakes were basically ice-free, whereas in 2014, ice formations lingered well into May and a number of vessels were idled for a period to repair ice damage suffered in March and April.
Year-to-date shipments of limestone total 5.9 million tons, an increase of 37.7 percent compared to the same point in 2014. However, as impressive as that increase is, it could have been greater. A number of vessels that primarily serve the short-haul stone trade delayed their sailings this April rather than become beset in ice. The Coast Guard Authorization Act passed by the House of Representatives includes a provision that authorizes the Commandant to design and build a new icebreaker for its Great Lakes fleet. The Senate has yet to take up its Coast Guard bill.