Burns Harbor port handles 2nd highest tonnage since 1994



[Feb. 4, 2016]

PORTAGE, Ind. – The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.8 million tons of cargo in 2015, the second highest tonnage in over two decades. Following 2014’s all-time record volume, the year marked only the third time the port handled 2.8 million tons or more in the port’s 45-year history.

Increased shipments of heavy-lift project cargoes (up 96 percent), carbon products (up 37 percent), limestone (up nearly 12 percent) and oils (up 72 percent) helped drive the increased volume.

“Our port continues to be a major inland hub for heavy-lift cargoes as our terminal operators handled nearly double the number of large dimensional shipments during 2015 over the previous year,” said Port Director Rick Heimann. “The port has received multiple shipments for regional breweries in recent years, including 36 beer fermentation tanks in 2015. Many of these are 20,000 gallon tanks or larger. The port’s strategic location at the intersection of two of the world’s busiest waterways and all of the nation’s Class I rail lines provides significant competitive advantages for multimodal companies moving international cargo to and from the Midwest.”

Steel shipments, a key driver for 2014’s record, were below that year’s total but well ahead of the five-year average. Other significant cargoes handled by the port in 2015 included fertilizer, grain and salt.

“Last year was a very good year for the port and the credit goes to our port companies who helped attract the cargoes,” said Heimann. “We continue to look for new opportunities to grow and diversify our product mix to withstand market swings and further improve our business. Nearly $2 million was invested in port infrastructure in 2015 to increase cargo-handling capacity and improve multimodal connections for our port companies.”

Projects included construction of a new mooring space for barge fleeting, upgrades to multiple dock areas, replacement of over 1,300 feet of rail track and rebuilding two railroad crossings.

Ocean ships and Great Lakes vessels carry critical cargoes for port companies, but river barges also provide the port with a vital year-round link to over 20 states through 12,000 miles of rivers and to global markets by connecting with ocean vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.

Additional 2015 port highlights included the September announcement of a new Great Lakes shipping partnership between Indiana and Québec. Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann and Québec Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie Christine St-Pierre met at the port to explain the new partnership designed to explore the development of increased maritime trade between the districts. The new partnership is designed to identify new cargoes and boost existing shipping volumes. The port also played host to a trade mission from Québec in October and celebrated multiple bulk export shipments to Québec ports in the fourth quarter.

In November, Betty Sutton, Administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, presented Gov. Mike Pence with the “Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award” in recognition of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor’s recent increase in international shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor contributes over $4.6 billion in total economic activity per year to the regional economy and supports over 36,000 total jobs.

About the Port: The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opened in 1970 and is operated by Ports of Indiana, a statewide port authority managing three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. Established in 1961, the Ports of Indiana is a self-funded enterprise dedicated to growing Indiana’s economy by developing and maintaining a world-class port system. Information:

Media contact: Rich Allen, 317.232.9204,


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