The Thunder Bay Port Authority manages and maintains facilities at Thunder Bay Port. It is also responsible for promoting the effective integration of transportation systems and supporting the region’s economic development. Thunder Bay Port is at the head of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System, a waterway stretching for 3700 kilometers to the east. It takes about five days for large vessels to navigate the voyage to Thunder Bay Port. Thunder Bay Port is open 24 hours a day from late March to late December each year.
The facilities at Thunder Bay Port handle a wide range of cargoes, and the port is linked to rail and highway networks. Over 400 ships visit the port every year carrying cargoes like coal, potash, grain, forest products, and manufactured goods.
Thunder Bay Port’s Keefer Terminal includes 50 thousand square meters of storage buildings for steel, bagged goods, machinery, and forest products. It also offers 6.4 hectares of outside storage. Its berths are linked directly to rail and truck, and it offers both indoor and dockside rail services.
Keefer Intermodel, a full-service facility at the heart of Thunder Bay Port, handles most of the general cargo through the port. Covering 32 hectares, it contains 750 meters of berths with direct connections to rail and road. Controlled access and security protect cargo in all facility areas. Thunder Bay Port Authority owns the heated facility. It contains a 5300 square meter clear span building, state-of-the-art truck docking facilities, and indoor rail connections.
Being the second biggest grain port in Canada, Thunder Bay Port has eight grain terminals with capacity to store 1.2 million tons of wheat, coarse grains, feed grains, durum, oilseed, and grain by-products. The port has capacity to load up to 3400 tons per hour. Grains make up about 70% of the Port’s throughput, and Thunder Bay Port terminals clean and handle from five to six tons of grain products every year.
Thunder Bay Terminals Ltd. is the link between ship and rail for the transport of low-sulphur bituminous and lignite coal from mines in western Canada. It also handles metallurgical coal and other dry bulk cargoes. Offering a 262-meter berth, the site is served by rail connections.
Valley Camp Inc., a division of Synfuel Technologies, operates a terminal in Thunder Bay Port with two cargo-handling areas for dry bulk. It can accommodate vessels to 304 meters and has outside storage for more than two million tons of cargo. It has capacity to handle 10 million tons of cargo a year.
Dry bulk cargoes account for almost 30% of Thunder Bay Port’s throughput and include potash, coal, minerals, and agricultural products. The port handles more than two million tons of dry bulk cargoes each year that also include sand, salt, stone, limestone, and urea.
Liquid bulk cargoes through Thunder Bay Port make up about 2% of all cargo and include petroleum products, caustic soda, and calcium chloride. A chemical company operates storage facilities in Thunder Bay Port.
General cargoes like lumber, wood pulp, newsprint, and other forest products make up about 2% of the port’s throughput. Other general cargoes include heavy equipment and machinery, manufactured goods, bagged goods, project cargoes and containers, steel, and food products.
In 2007, Thunder Bay Port handled a total of 8.5 million metric tons of cargo, including 6.4 million metric tons of grains and 1.3 million metric tons of coal. About half a million metric tons of potash was followed by liquid bulk (155 thousand metric tons), dry bulk (90.4 thousand metric tons), and general cargo (51 thousand metric tons).