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Shipments of iron ore, coal and crushed stone on the Great Lakes fell 7.7 percent during October as three large ore carriers were idled for maintenance and three firms were beset by strikes.

The Lake Carriers Association reported that shipments of iron ore, coal and stone fell to 13.8 million tons, compared with 15 million tons during October 1989.

The strikes and idled ships had the most dramatic effect on iron ore shipments, which fell 9.6 percent to 6.3 million tons. Coal shipments declined 5 percent, while stone cargoes were off 7.5 percent.

Because of the strikes and lower water levels earlier this year, the association said many fleets will have to sail into January to meet their customers' raw materials needs. As a result, the group has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep the Soo Locks open until Jan. 15.

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