The Soo locks of the Great Lakes, which are generally closed from Jan 15-Mar 25 due to ice or maintenance-related shipping shutdowns, will be opening a day early to aid mills in iron ore restock. The locks account for 90pc of iron ore movements in the US.
The locks operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, connect Lakes Superior and Huron where ships haul approximately 86mn mt of cargo each year. According to media reports, The Army Corps of Engineers said it will open earlier than usual, on Mar 24 at noon.
The early start this year follows an appeal from customers in the industry in an effort to restock iron ore supply for integrated steel mills along the lower lakes, according to reports. The shipping industry faced reduced iron ore volumes in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and per reports, even a small head start provided in 2021 will aid the industry in resuming normal volumes.
As iron ore has faced a prolonged global shortage while demand and prices have increased, the raw material is anticipated to see a strong year on continued, rising steel demand and supply tightness.