Viterra to buy Lethbridge Inland Terminal

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A major farmer-owned high-throughput grain elevator at Lethbridge, Alta. is poised to raise the banner of Canada’s biggest grain handler.

Viterra, the Regina-based Canadian grain handling arm of Swiss commodity firm Glencore Xstrata, announced Saturday it plans to buy the elevator assets of Lethbridge Inland Terminal (LIT) for an undisclosed sum.

The sale, which still requires approval from LIT’s farmer shareholders and from government regulators, already has the unanimous support of LIT’s board of directors, Viterra said in a release. An information circular to shareholders was mailed last Monday, the company added.

“The board of directors and staff of LIT are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time in a very competitive and mature southern Alberta marketplace,” Darcy Heggie, a Raymond, Alta. producer and LIT’s founding president and chairman, said in Viterra’s release.

LIT, which opened in the fall of 2008, operates on Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) track southeast of the city off Highway 845 about a mile south of Highway 4. When built, it was hailed by its backers as “a new choice in a time of rapid consolidation of the grain industry” and a way to help keep agricultural profits in Alberta.

The terminal, built for about $23 million, is supported today by about 200 farming shareholders across southern Alberta, including various sizes of grain operations, Hutterite colonies and First Nations.

The facility, listed by the Canadian Grain Commission at 41,190 tonnes of handling capacity, is one of the 10 biggest primary elevators in the province. It would become Viterra’s largest Alberta elevator, ahead of its sites at Smoky River (40,900 tonnes), Trochu and Killam (39,500 tonnes each).

LIT’s terminal takes up nine acres of a 220-acre property where it was meant to be the anchor resident of an agricultural industrial park development.

LIT and United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) are also 50/50 partners in a fertilizer blending plant, which opened at the LIT site in 2010 and offers urea, phosphate, sulfur and potash among other fertilizer products. The fertilizer plant wasn’t specifically mentioned in Viterra’s release Saturday.

Viterra CEO Kyle Jeworski on Saturday described LIT as “ideally located and an excellent fit in our overall asset network.”

Jeworski also noted the company’s recent investments in Alberta, including planned expansions for its elevator at Grassy Lake, about 80 km east of Lethbridge, to bring that site’s handling capacity up to about 36,500 tonnes. – AGCanada.com Network

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Viterra plans new concrete in Alta. Peace, Nov. 5, 2013