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St. Lawrence Seaway cargo up three per cent over 2013 despite late season start

OTTAWA - The St. Lawrence Seaway says total cargo shipments are up three per cent this year despite a late start to the shipping season because of the harsh winter.

The corporation that manages the seaway said 20 million tonnes of cargo was transported between March 25 and Aug. 31, fuelled by a surge of Canadian grain exports, higher road salt inventories for Great Lakes municipalities and steel for the automotive and construction industries.

Demand was also strong for construction materials such as stone and cement.

The Seaway said more than five million tonnes of grain have been shipped from Canadian Great Lakes ports this season, up 86 per cent over last year.

It said Thunder Bay, Ont., the largest grain port on the system, is headed to its strongest year since 1997 due to its role in clearing the huge backlog of Prairie grain.

"The new grain crops will begin shipping in the coming weeks and traffic is expected to be busy for the rest of the autumn. Our total shipments should end the year ahead of 2013," said Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

Salt shipments increased 30 per cent to 1.6 million tonnes. General cargo including specialty steel imports, Quebec aluminum and oversized project cargo like machinery or wind turbines was up 66 per cent to 1.5 million metric tonnes.

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