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Burns Harbor Sees 3rd Highest Volume in 10 Years

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

“Fourth quarter shipments were especially strong for us and included two export ships of Indiana grain, raw materials for the steel industry as well as several large-dimensional cargoes,” said Port Director Rick Heimann.

Multiple large cranes and containers of crane components for intermodal yards around the Midwest arrived from Europe in the spring. In the summer, some of the larger cargoes included cranes and storage tanks destined for manufacturers and wind tower components and blades. In the fall, project cargoes included several 200-foot molds for wind turbine blades, a competitive sailing yacht and large freezer units for a food processing company.

In December, the Port welcomed its 200th ship of the year. Since 2016 was the state’s bicentennial, the Port decided to mark the occasion by gifting the ship’s captain and crew a ceremonial steel stein, alluding to Northwest Indiana’s place as the steel capital of North America. “In 1816, Indiana’s founding fathers saw the potential for a Great Lakes port and extended the state’s boundary line 10 miles north giving Indiana 45 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline,” Heimann said. “This foresight has given the world direct access to the Midwest by way of the Atlantic Ocean, St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes.”

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.6 million tons of cargo in 2016, the third highest volume in the last 10 years. Key cargoes included:

  • Shipments of grain and grain products were 57 percent above 2015 volumes
  • Slag, a by-product of the steel-making process, was up 22 percent
  • Mineral and oil shipments increased 19 percent
  • Coal volumes increased 11 percent
  • Project cargoes saw a gain of 18 percent
  • Other key cargoes handled by the port in 2016 included steel and limestone

Additionally, nearly $2.5 million was invested in port infrastructure in 2016 including dredging and adding stabilization stones to two berths increasing the number of docks capable of handling full seaway draft vessels. To improve multimodal connections, the port also replaced 2,000 feet of rail track and rehabilitated three rail turnouts.

Port company Ratner Steel, a producer of carbon sheet steel for service centers and the manufacturing of agricultural and transportation products, announced a major expansion in 2016. The Minn.-based company is adding 100,000 more square feet to load and unload steel shipments. The $8 million investment is expected to be completed by March 2017 and could bring up to 37 more employees. “Watch the Ratner Steel expansion take shape is especially encouraging because it further demonstrates that by using the port’s strategic location and multimodal capabilities, a company can gain a competitive advantage and grow its business,” Heimann said.

Maritime operations at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor generate nearly $4.9 billion per year in economic activity and support more than 39,000 total jobs. For more information visit

Rich Allen, Communications Manager

Ports of Indiana