U.S. Great Lakes-Seaway shipping through May was down slightly compared to a year earlier. May was the first month of the shipping season.

Iron ore posted especially strong numbers, Chamber of Marine Commerce numbers show. Iron ore traffic through the system was almost 1.6 million tonnes, an increase of 10% from the same period last year.

Overall, approximately 8 million tonnes of total cargo traffic have now transited the seaway system for the year to date, which is down slightly from the 8.2 million tonnes of cargo recorded for the same period in 2022. It should be noted that there has been significant variation in traffic across commodities and across ports, with some ports like the Port of Cleveland being especially busy, the Chamber said.

“The Port of Cleveland has had an outstanding start to the year at our bulk terminal due to strong demand for iron ore from the Cleveland Cliffs steel mill. This again justifies the significant recent investment in the extension of our ore tunnel, which has allowed us to mix ore on demand for delivery to the mill and increased the efficiency of our operation,” David Gutheil, chief commercial officer for the Port of Cleveland, said in a statement.

“At our general cargo terminal, we completed a two-year project in May, which rebuilt and modernized three of our most used docks and berths,” Gutheil added. “Also included in the project was the introduction of a below ground system to filter and clean stormwater before it is introduced back into Lake Erie. We are now also in the design and planning phase of our next large project at the same terminal. This project will modernize our largest warehouse and introduce systems that will set up this warehouse as the electric hub of our port for the eventual transition from diesel to electric cargo handling equipment.”