Business is back to normal at the Port of Thunder Bay as they report a strong recovery in grain shipments after a slower year in 2022.

Tim Heney, the port’s chief executive officer, says last year’s harvest yielded the third-best results in Canadian history.

This spring, grain volumes were up during May compared to May of 2022. He said that compared to last year at this time, the 2023 grain shipments are up by almost 63 per cent, which reflects a strong recovery from last year’s deficit.

“It was really due to the harvest. Last year was lower because we had a poor harvest the prior year. But last season was the biggest in Canadian history,” Heney said. “We weren’t predicting a rebound, certainly for grain. So it’s coming off a weak year. That’s why it looks so much better and of course, that means more of an average year for us now.”

Western Canadian potash shipments are down from last year’s 32-year high when a record 1,204,876 metric tons of potash moved through the port in 2022. Heney says the last time potash numbers moving through the port were that high was in 1990, when more than 1.3 million metric tons of potash were moved. 

“Last year was a 30-year high, and we’re not duplicating that this year,” he said. “It’s going to pick up a bit more as the season goes on, but it’s certainly not what it was last year.”

General cargo shipments through Keefer Terminal continue to be strong during the early part of the shipping season.

“It’s going quite well. We expect the first phosphate shipment to come in for fertilizer and we see things are going quite well.

Keefer terminal is seeing import cargoes of steel rail, wind turbine blades and tower components, and more than 20,000 metric tons of phosphate fertilizer that is on its way.

Overall, Heney says this all bodes well for the Thunder Bay port. 

“It certainly shows more of an average in terms of grain and the harvest balance,” he said. “It was the third biggest in Canadian history last year, so we’re back to weather conditions permitting to do that again this year. (For now) things are back to normal.”

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 03, 2023 at 10:00

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chronicle-Journal   Thunder Bay, Ontario
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