Canpotex to build Sask. railcar facility

The offshore marketing arm of Saskatchewan’s three potash mining firms plans to build a new $55 million railcar maintenance and staging facility in the province.

Canpotex, jointly owned by PotashCorp, Mosaic Co. and Agrium, said Tuesday it will start construction next month on a facility 12 km southwest of Lanigan in the RM of Usborne, about 110 km east of Saskatoon.

The site, expected to be completed by the fall of 2012, is designed to provide all-weather inspection and light repair, automated railcar wash and wheel maintenance services for Canpotex’s fleet of about 5,000 railcars. The completed facility would employ about 20 people.

Environmental permitting, preliminary site preparation and final engineering design work are “nearing completion,” the company said.

The company said the new facility is part of a logistics strategy dating back to 1996 when Canpotex first paired with National Steel Car of Hamilton, Ont. to build “the world’s first railcar designed specifically to carry potash.”

The railcar design and greater load capacity allow Canpotex to operate longer trains carrying more potash, the company said.

“By exclusively running longer trains, Canpotex is one of the first Canadian shippers to support the railways’ move towards a ‘hook and haul’ operating system,” the company said.

Moving potash from mine sites in eastern Saskatchewan to Canpotex’s export terminals, “over 1,600 km through rugged terrain and severe climate changes, is the lifeline of our logistics,” Canpotex president Steve Dechka said in the company’s release.

The Usborne facility “will provide greater control over railcar maintenance, thereby enhancing the performance of our railcar fleet” and “improve the efficiency of the overall rail corridor,” he said.

Provincial Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd, in a separate release, called the project “an important step in maintaining and enhancing Canpotex’s position” and added it will mean more maintenance of potash railcars taking place in Saskatchewan.

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