Fastmarkets AMM reports transportation woes heading into 2020 are an on-going source of concern for meeting participants at their conference in New Orleans last week: “After a year of challenges on the United State’ rail, road and river networks, delegates at Fastmarkets' Steel Scrap, DRI and Mini-Mills Conference, held in New Orleans October 23-25, were warned of further difficulties in 2020.
An extended closure of the Illinois River is scheduled for July through to the end of October next year as the US Army Corps of Engineers carries out a major revamp of the river’s locks and dams to alleviate some of the issues experienced this year due to high water levels. ‘You’re looking at a four-month closure. But from a barge standpoint you’re closer to six months because we have to have enough time to get barges into the Chicago area and Indiana Harbor, unload them and get them back out,’ Chad Sutter, sales and logistics manager for Cooper Consolidated, told delegates… Trade sources noted that an extended closure of the Illinois River will hinder the movement of scrap in the Chicago area. Large quantities of material could remain unshipped for weeks, causing inventories to build rapidly. Pig iron shipments from the Gulf up to that region’s mills and foundries could be severely hampered as well. Sutter noted that customers were already making plans for the closure, with warehouse space along the river being snapped up quickly… And the trucking industry already faces a shortage of around 60,000 drivers in the United States, according to Daniel Titus, owner of Page Transportation. He warned of a coming capacity crunch in light of the Illinois River shutdown. ‘Meet with your logistics folks, hold their hand and kiss them in the ear and find a solution that works for both of you,’ Titus suggested.”