INDIANAPOLIS – The Ports of Indiana handled nearly 3.9 million tons of cargo during the fourth quarter of 2016, the highest quarterly shipment total in the organization’s 55-year history. The total surpassed the ports’ previous quarterly record set in the second quarter of 2015 by 300,000 tons. The state’s three ports’ shipped nearly 11.3 million tons in 2016, the second highest volume in history and the third consecutive year the ports exceeded 10 million tons annually. Since 2014, the Ports of Indiana has handled 34 million tons of cargo, the highest three-year total since Indiana’s ports opened.
Major cargoes included coal, steel, grain, fertilizer and limestone. Shipments of soy products were the highest in Ports of Indiana history, up six percent over 2015, while oil volumes were up nearly 18 percent and minerals increased four percent.
“Thanks to our world-class port companies and other businesses that use our facilities, our ports remain one of the most vibrant port systems in the heartland of America,” said Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper. “With our total 2016 shipments more than two million tons higher than the previous five-year average, a global steelmaker announcing plans to build a processing plant at our Jeffersonville port and several existing port companies making significant capital investments during the year, the prospect for continued growth at the ports is certainly encouraging.”
On Lake Michigan, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.6 million tons in 2016 completing the highest three-year total in the port’s history. Grain shipments were up 57 percent, coal up 11 percent and large-dimensional cargoes increased nearly 25 percent as the port continues to be a preferred handler of significant project cargoes, such as beer fermentation tanks and wind turbine components. Ratner Steel will complete an $8 million expansion at the port next month, adding 100,000 square feet to its steel processing facility.
On the Ohio River, the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon handled nearly 2.5 million tons of cargo during the fourth quarter shattering its previous quarterly record by 44 percent. During 2016, Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. announced it would invest $31 million to increase its soybean processing capabilities at the port and Valero Renewable Fuels Co. completed a multi-million dollar project to install new corn-receiving equipment and a new DDG dryer system at its ethanol plant.
The Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville, also on the Ohio River, handled the second highest steel shipments in the port’s history during 2016, helped by the continued strong demand for new cars. The port’s “steel campus” consists of 13 companies that offer steel processing, warehousing, stevedoring and distribution services for the automobile and appliance industries. The most recent addition to the campus, POSCO, the fifth largest steel producer in the world, is currently constructing a wire rod processing center at the port to produce fasteners, nuts and bolts used in the auto industry.
Maritime operations at the state’s three ports contribute over $7.8 billion in total economic activity per year to regional economies and support nearly 60,000 total jobs.