Potash keeps port busy

·2 min read

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — The Port of Thunder Bay has been busy over the summer and things are about to get busier heading into fall with an expected significant grain harvest and record volumes of potash.

And Keefer Terminal has been receiving import cargoes of steel products and windmill parts.

“We’ve got numerous shipments of pipe and rail from Europe, wind turbines and project cargo, so it’s been very strong at Keefer all year,” said Tim Heney, chief executive officer with the Port of Thunder Bay. “It hasn’t been a slow year for us at all. The potash has been the big news because it’s been such a huge increase this year.”

Heney says western Canadian potash that was shipped from Thunder Bay this year has surpassed the 30-year annual high, with more to come. More than 200,000 metric tonnes of the commodity passed through the Thunder Bay port in August alone and headed to ports in Europe, South America, and North Africa in what Heney called a “modern monthly record.”

The potash is a fertilizer needed to grow certain crops for a better yield depending on the soil type. The commodity comes from Saskatchewan and is used in places like Brazil and other parts of the world.

Meanwhile, grain shipments during August were slightly down from last year.

“We’re shipping last year’s crop, which was small,” Heney said, adding that’s why (grain movement) has been slow here. But farmers are starting to harvest now.

Grain shipments remain 1.3 million tonnes below this time last year. The Prairie grain crop is expected to begin arriving in the Thunder Bay port this month with crop production volumes anticipated to exceed the 2021 volume by at least 30 per cent, according to Agriculture Canada.

“All indications are it’s going to be very good,” Heney said. “That’s very positive compared to the grain shipments all year so far. . . so it looks like the low shipments are over.”

In anticipation of the busy fall ahead, Keefer Terminal has scheduled a strong slate of cargo vessels.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal