Total traffic handled at the Port of Montreal increased by 6.1%, or more than a million tons, to reach 18.2 million tons in the first nine months of this year.

All traffic categories recorded increases, with the exception of dry bulk. With an increase of 3.9%, or more than 300,000 tons, container traffic at the port totalled 8.3 million tons as of September 30.

“There is no doubt that 2005 will be our fourth consecutive record year for container traffic,” said Mr. Dominic J. Taddeo, president and chief executive officer, Montreal Port Authority. “Ever since the Port of Montreal handled its first container in 1967, it has had no less than 30 record years in that sector. It is not surprising that the Port of Montreal has become a leader on the North Atlantic market, and we need to appreciate that, because it has a very strong impact on our economy.”

By September 30, the port had received 905,143 teus, compared with 899,179 during the same period in 2004.

Traffic in general non-containerized general cargo also increased, due to entries of copper anodes and cathodes, and steel products. This traffic increased by 10.7%, or more than 37,000 tons, to total more than 385,000 tons.

On the petroleum products side, traffic increased by 18.3%, or more than 680,000 tons, thanks to more entries of motor oil, jet fuel, fuel oil and diesel. The port handled 4.4 million tons of petroleum products in the first nine months of 2005.

Other liquid-bulk traffic totalled 965,000 tons, an increase of 18.7%, or 152,000 tons. This increase was due to strong demand for various hydrocarbons, greater entries of liquid asphalt and an active petrochemical sector.

Over the first nine months of the current year, maritime grain traffic decreased by 8.4%, or 74,100 tons. It reached 810,000 tons. This traffic is still feeling the effects of a poor-quality harvest in 2004, but it would have been lower, had it not been for increased exports by corn and soy producers in southwestern Quebec.

Finally, traffic in dry bulk other than grain totalled 3.4 million tonnes, a decrease of 1.6%, or about 56,000 tons. Iron ore and scrap metal were mainly responsible for the decrease.

“Of course, we are pleased with the general-cargo and liquid-bulk results, but we are also celebrating two other positive developments for the Port of Montreal and its clients,” said Mr. Taddeo.

“First of all, after 10 years of labor peace on our docks, the Maritime Employers Association and Montreal longshoremen signed a new collective agreement last summer. This agreement affects 1,100 full-time and part-time employees, and will remain in effect until December 31, 2008. The new agreement also foresaw the hiring of 120 new workers, many of whom have already gone through training. This increase in the number of workers will go a long way towards improving delivery times.”

“Secondly, Holland Maas Container Line, based in Rotterdam (Netherlands), launched a new container service linking the Port of Montreal, the Caribbean and Latin America every 10 days. Shipping line MSC of Geneva (Switzerland) and Rotterdam-based Wec Line are also chartering space on Holland Maas’ four vessels,” said Mr. Taddeo.