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Great Lakes iron ore shipments up in September

The 767-foot long laker Cason J. Callaway emerges from the fog right before entering the Duluth shipping canal. (2016 file / News Tribune)

Steelmakers in the U.S. are making more steel than they did in 2016. Iron Range mines are mining and processing more ore. And Great Lakes ore carriers are carrying more taconite pellets to the steel mills.

Quite a bit more.

The Lake Carriers Association said Tuesday that shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway totaled 6.5 million tons in September, up 23.4 percent compared to 2016.

September’s shipments also beat the five year average by nearly 9 percent.

Shipments from Minnesota and Michigan ore docks totaled 6.2 million tons in September, an increase of nearly 26 percent compared to 2016. Canadian terminals dropped by a boatload, about 300,000 tons, from last year.

So far in 2017 the iron ore trade stands at some 43.3 million tons, an increase of 13.7 percent compared to the same point in 2016. Shipments from Canadian ports in the St. Lawrence Seaway total 3.3 million tons, a decrease of 13.1 percent.

The Lake Carriers Association represents 13 American companies that operate 49 U.S.-flagged  vessels on the Great Lakes and carry iron ore, limestone, aggregate, cement, coal and grain - totaling more than 100 million tons per year.