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A promising outlook as shipping season gets underway

DULUTH, MN -- Last year proved difficult for most aspects of the mining industry including shipping but as the new season kicks off officials said things are looking up.

The first vessels left the Twin Ports on Tuesday. The start of a new shipping season is welcomed news after last season was crushed by the pandemic.

In 2020, total tonnage through the Port of Duluth-Superior dropped to the port’s lowest single-season total since 1938. On top of that, each of the port’s major cargo categories experienced season-over-season tonnage declines, most notably iron ore which was down 21.9 percent.

As the vessels take off for a new season, local industry officials are expecting smooth sailing for the year ahead.

“The early indications point to a tonnage rebound in our port, led by what we expect will be a return to normal levels of iron ore movement on the Great Lakes. The Iron Range mines are open and active, the nation’s blast furnace utilization rate has climbed back to pre-pandemic levels and there’s an increasingly healthy demand for steel. All of that bodes well for the Port of Duluth-Superior,” said Jayson Hron, Director of Communication and Marketing for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

The Burns Harbor sailed at midday Tuesday loaded with iron ore, and the Paul R. Tregurtha was scheduled to sail Tuesday night with a load of coal.

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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