Seaway raises tolls after five-year freeze

Tolls on the St. Lawrence Seaway are going up by three per cent this year.

It’s the first hike in six years, and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation says the increase will help fund infrastructure renewal, efforts to reduce system costs, and marketing efforts.

A late-season surge in Prairie grain exports last fall pushed up traffic by four per cent to 39 million tonnes, and seaway officials expect another two per cent rise this year.

“The increase in tonnage testifies to both the economic recovery taking place within the seaway’s client base and the emergence of new trade patterns,” said Bruce Hodgson, the corporation’s director of market development.

The season will also see more of the 20 new freighters ordered by Algoma Central, Canada Steamship Lines, and Federal Navigation. They will be more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than the existing 40-year-old-plus vessels.

The one sour note is that water levels on lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron and in Montreal are below their all-time average for this time of year.

Russia plans wheat intervention

moscow / reuters / Russia plans to buy wheat on the domestic market in the August-October period to replenish stocks after last year’s drought, a move seen bringing more risks for the country’s exportable surplus.

If the government ends up competing with exporters for grain, it could jeopardize Russia’s traditional role as one of the cheapest suppliers on the world market. The country’s restocking plan would set a bottom price for the new harvest, traders and analysts say.

The government is aiming for a starting price range of US$190 to US$230 per tonne. Analysts say the government could buy about six million tonnes of grain this year, mainly wheat and corn.

Since the start of this season, the government has sold 2.2 million tonnes of grain from its grain stocks, known as its intervention stocks, and plans to sell an additional 2.3 million tonnes by July. This will decrease the stocks to about 300,000 tonnes.

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