Cargo totals up nine per cent to nearly 11.3 million metric tonnes at ports of Hamilton and Oshawa

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Published February 29, 2024 at 5:08 pm

Port of Hamilton
Port of Hamilton

Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) had a big year in 2023, with nearly 11.3 million tonnes of cargo coming through the two ports, a nine per cent jump from the previous year and the second-highest total in the last decade.

The total also represents about 30 per cent of all cargo transiting the Canada-US Great-Lakes Seaway system.

The season saw a total of 665 vessels, with 603 in Hamilton and 62 in Oshawa, taking advantage of the longest ever Seaway shipping season.

Over the past 15 years, HOPA and partners have invested close to $1 billion in transportation infrastructure and terminals that have enabled the steady growth of key commodities. This trend continues with the recent announcements of a $135 million sugar refinery, a new rail container facility, a new flour mill, and more than $40 million in capital works programs for 2024.

“Commodities fluctuate year-to-year driven by market and other external forces that are often beyond our control; that’s why we are focused on future trends. Our investments in trade-enabling infrastructure, and those of our tenants and partners are the engines of longer-term performance,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports.

Nearly a third – 31 per cent – of all products that came into Hamilton and Oshawa harbour was agricultural products. Agri-food products represented 18 per cent of total cargo in 2013 and just ten per cent in 2009.

The combined total of 3.5 million tonnes of agri-food products commodities in 2023 was up five per cent from 2022.

The growth in Hamilton in particular has been driven by major investments in agricultural-related terminal infrastructure. Over the past 15 years, the port has attracted $500 million in new investments by agri-food companies, including grain handling terminals, fertilizer terminals, and the addition of Collective Arts, one of Ontario’s biggest craft breweries to the city’s harbour lands.

HOPA kicked off 2024 by announcing even more agri-food investment in Hamilton in the form of a new flour mill, to be constructed by Parrish & Heimbecker, and a new sugar refinery, to be constructed by SucroCan.

“Food processing is a $4.8 billion sector in Ontario, and we’re delighted to be providing the key ingredients to grow this sector further, in the form of the location and logistics solutions that food manufacturers need,” said Hamilton.

Port of Oshawa

At the Port of Oshawa, plans for a new grain export terminal are now underway. “We hope to have shovels in the ground in the coming months to enhance export capacity for grain grown in Durham, Kawartha and other GTA-east grain producing regions. The new export terminal is expected to be ready for the fall 2024 harvest,” Hamilton said.

Steel and steel-making commodities also had a stellar year, with cargo exceeding 6.2 million tonnes, a 13 per cent increase from 2022.

HOPA continues to invest in capacity for the value-added steel-related manufacturing supply chain with the construction of a $10 million, 60,000 sq ft rail transload facility for steel products at the Port of Hamilton. This facility, to be operated by NSD Warehouse & Distribution and supported in part by the National Trade Corridors Fund, will make new connections between transportation modes and add more than 100,000MT of new steel handling capacity.

Cement, asphalt and aggregates led the cargo mix at the Port of Oshawa in 2023. “These commodities are critical to infrastructure, housing and manufacturing – everything we need to keep our regional economy humming,” said Hamilton. “It is our job to make sure we have the supply chains in place to move these essential goods reliably and efficiently.”

Broken down by individual products, ore was number one at 3.37 million tonnes, followed by grain (including soybeans) at 2.77 million tonnes, coal at 1.73 million tonnes, aggregates at 917,542 tonnes and steel at 819,280 tonnes.

HOPA continued to advance its Niagara Ports strategy, which now covers more than 600 acres of industrial space in Niagara. In 2023, three new parcels of land were transferred by Transport Canada to HOPA management: two at the Thorold Multimodal Hub and one in Port Colborne, creating more opportunities for businesses to locate and grow as part of HOPA’s Great Lakes port network. The Thorold Multimodal Hub welcomed its 20th tenant in 2023, and the Hub was awarded a Canadian Urban Institute ‘Brownie’ Brownfield Redevelopment Award for its innovative approach to repurposing a legacy industrial site for modern uses.

HOPA was recognized in 2023 as Bulk Port of the Year by the International Bulk Journal. “Our ports are essential trade gateways to Canada’s largest and most dynamic economic region,” said Ian Hamilton. “Through expanded industrial lands and a comprehensive range of multimodal services, we contribute to economic prosperity and a resilient, future-ready supply chain.”

NDS Warehouse, Hamilton

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