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Published: 30 January 2018      

Record year for Hamilton agri shipments

The Canadian Port of Hamilton continues to expand its role as a leading transport hub for Ontario’s agri-food sector.

In 2017, the port handled its highest ever total of agricultural products. Close to 2.3 Mt (metric) of commodities such as Ontario-grown corn, wheat and soya beans, as well as canola, sugar, potash and other fertilisers were handled through the Port of Hamilton. Agricultural cargoes now make up 23% of the port’s total, up from 12.5% in 2010.

Ian Hamilton, president and CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA), attributed the steady growth in the agricultural sector to the port’s ability to respond to market opportunities. “Global demand for food is growing, and Canada has an impeccable brand internationally for food safety and quality,” he said.

Capacity at the port has been growing steadily to keep up with this demand. “The Port of Hamilton has attracted more than US$200M in agri-food related private-sector investment in recent years, which means our terminal operators have the ability to move more product, more efficiently,” said Ian Hamilton.

Success with primary agricultural commodities has led to the attraction of new supply chain partners to the Port of Hamilton. The port now has 14 tenants in the agri-food sector, from food processing, grain milling, and beer brewing, to food-grade trucking and warehousing. “We brought together all the right ingredients, and now we’re really cooking,” said Mr Hamilton.

Overall, the port’s tonnage for all cargoes was 6% higher than in 2016, at 9.86 Mt in 2017.

Commodities associated with steelmaking rebounded in 2017, spurred by a revival of activity at Stelco’s Hamilton works. Import shipments of finished steel were also their highest ever, at more than 620,000 Mt, 20% higher than in 2016, reflecting strong demand from Ontario’s manufacturing sector.

It was also a solid year for investment at the Port of Hamilton, with new private-sector facilities going into operation. Investments included G3 Canada Ltd’s US$50M grain export terminal, and Parrish & Heimbecker’s new US$45M flour mill, the first new flour mill built in Ontario in 75 years. HPA reinvests its own earnings into port infrastructure, which in 2017 totalled more than US$10M in new rail capacity, utility upgrades and energy efficiency improvements.

The Port of Hamilton is the largest port in Ontario, handling a wide variety of cargo types, and overseeing more than 630 acres of transport-intensive employment lands. Ian Hamilton believes the Port of Hamilton is the region’s best model for growing maritime trade and the economy along with it.  

“The role of maritime trade in southern Ontario is sometimes overlooked, but it is critically important to industries like agri-food and manufacturing,” said Hamilton. “The opportunity is there if we want it, to use our marine sector to grow our economy and reduce our environmental impact at the same time.”

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