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Hamilton Economic Development

Heavy cargo numbers

Photo of cranes at the Port of HamiltonLed by steel products, Port of Hamilton moves record volume in 2014.

Hamilton is becoming the gateway to North America for international shippers.

The latest cargo tonnage figures from the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) show the volume of foreign cargo flowing through the harbour rose 39 per cent last year over 2013, its highest annual overseas tonnage in a decade.

“All commodities are up right across the board,” said HPA president Bruce Wood. “We’ve even hit an all-time revenue number of $22 million for the year.”

The report for the 2014 shipping season shows the port handled more than 10.5 million tonnes of cargo overall, five per cent more than in 2013.

Over the season 619 vessels passed under the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge, 157 from foreign lands while the rest were lakers.

By cargo type, steel and its related products remain the largest part of the port’s volume, accounting for 72 per cent of the total. Materials related to the production of steels — coke, coal, iron ore and others — made up just under 7.1 million tones, or 67.3 per cent of total volume. Finished steel imported from other countries accounted for another 502,000 tonnes, or 4.7 per cent of the total.

The cargo report notes that finished steel products, totalling more than half a million tonnes, exceeded the port’s five-year average volume for such material by 68 per cent.

Steel products were brought in from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. The growth in volume was credited partly to lower world prices for the material, a drop that encourages exports.

Increased demand in regional manufacturing and construction markets was also cited.

“We had a bit of a boom in imported steel last year,” Wood said. “It really helped us with our total volume.”

As steel volumes dip, the report also notes a sharp increase in the volume of agricultural commodities and products passing over Hamilton’s piers.

From 12 per cent of the port’s volume in 2010, farm supplies and product now account for more than 19 per cent of the total volume. That tonnage includes grain from all parts of southern Ontario bound for foreign markets.

Hamilton has also become a primary gateway for fertilizer being imported into the country. Wood said the increased volume in this sector is a direct payoff for investments that drew grain handling firms such as Parrish and Heimbecker and Richardson International to the port.

“This comes directly from our investments in the grain guys,” he said. “We’ve put about $300 million into the ground in gates and rails and everything else to take product right to their front door.”

Another major portion of the port’s volume is general cargo — including containers, salt, scrap metal and everything from windmill blades and turbines to power plant components, construction machinery, vehicles, steel cables and pipes, and even a recreational yacht.

The general cargo volume in 2014 was 267,778 tonnes, or 2.5 per cent of the total.

Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator

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