Richardson to boost West Coast port grain storage

Grain handler Richardson International has applied for permits to boost its Port Metro Vancouver terminal’s grain storage space by about two-thirds.

The Winnipeg company, currently Canada’s second-biggest grain handler, said Monday it plans to build an 80,000-tonne capacity concrete grain storage annex at its Vancouver port site.

After it takes down its current steel storage bins at the site, Richardson said this $120 million expansion project would net about 70,000 tonnes of new storage, bringing the terminal’s total storage capacity to 178,000 tonnes.

"Increasing storage capacity at our Vancouver terminal is critical to our business," Darwin Sobkow, Richardson’s vice-president for agribusiness operations, said in a release.

Richardson’s Vancouver terminal is now running at "maximum capacity," the company said, handling about three million tonnes of grains and oilseeds per year.

The company’s grain handle is also expected to rise in coming months through its planned acquisition of 19 Prairie elevators now owned by Viterra, Canada’s No. 1 handler.

Pending approval from federal antitrust watchdogs, that sale — part of a $900 million deal with Viterra’s proposed new owner, Glencore International — would put Richardson near the No. 1 spot among Canadian handlers.

Given "growing global demand," Richardson said, it expects to be able to handle over five million tonnes per year with this additional storage capacity in hand.

The company recently spent $20 million to improve rail receiving capacity and increase "operating efficiencies" at the Vancouver terminal, reconfiguring its rail yard and adding a second rail unload pit and railcar indexer.

With those upgrades complete, Richardson said, it can double the number of railcars it unloads at the terminal to 300 cars a day on a double track, up from 150 on a single track.

The proposed storage expansion project will also include new distribution equipment and an upgraded dust filtration system, the company said.

"Local economy"

As per Port Metro Vancouver’s permitting process, Richardson said it will run a "stakeholder engagement program" from now until Oct. 19, to inform the community and other stakeholders and accept "feedback" on the capacity expansion.

"Vancouver is the major port for exports of Canadian grains and oilseeds and this project is a significant investment in the Pacific Gateway," Richardson International president Curt Vossen said in the same release.

"It supports Port Metro Vancouver’s vision to grow the port and increase Canadian trade and it is an investment in the local economy, through the creation of hundreds of jobs during construction and another 40 to 50 permanent positions at our facility."

Related stories:
CWB announces grain-handling agreement with Richardson, Aug. 1, 2012
Richardson’s Prairie grain handle would rival Glencore’s, March 20, 2012
Richardson to boost port throughput at Hamilton, July 13, 2011

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