CWB building new grain capacity in southern Manitoba

(Dave Bedard photo)

Having already bought its way into the Prairie grain handling system, the grain firm formerly known as the Canadian Wheat Board is now getting ready to build.

CWB, as the Winnipeg grain pooling agency is now called, announced Monday it has already started site work on its first new elevator, a 33,900-tonne capacity steel-storage high-throughput terminal on the Canadian National Railway (CN) mainline at Bloom, west of Portage la Prairie, Man.

A former railroad community, long dubbed a ghost town, Bloom is already the site of an Agrium fertilizer distribution terminal, about 6.5 km west of the junction of the Trans-Canada (No. 1) and Yellowhead (No. 16) highways in the RM of Portage la Prairie.

As a site for a grain elevator, “customer service was top of mind when choosing to invest in Bloom,” CWB CEO Ian White said in a release Monday.

The site, about five km west of the Agrium facility, “is easily accessible from a number of highways, including the Trans-Canada and the Yellowhead, and it is located in an area with a clear need for more grain-handling capacity.”

The Bloom terminal, he said, is expected to be “one of the highest efficiency elevators in Western Canada,” meaning “farmers will be able to pull in and out of our elevator yard in record time.”

The elevator, CWB said, will have a 17,400-tonne capacity workhouse with cleaning facilities, alongside steel storage capacity for 16,500 tonnes. The site is to include a 130-car loop track for “fast and efficient” car loading at up to 60,000 bushels per hour.

An estimated cost for the project wasn’t immediately released Monday.

“Every tonne of grain” delivered to the new elevator is also to be tracked for the purposes of CWB’s farmer ownership plan, White said, in which farmers who deliver grain to CWB will receive an equity interest in the company after privatization. [Related story]

Since the deregulation of its single marketing desk for Prairie wheat, durum and barley in August 2012, CWB has made moves to build up its own grain handling infrastructure, over and above its handling arrangements with other Prairie grain firms.

CWB last fall bought control of Winnipeg-based Mission Terminal — which includes a Thunder Bay grain terminal, a grain elevator west of Brandon, Man., and stakes in three Prairie producer-car loading facilities and five shortline rail operations — and a St. Lawrence River commodity handling facility, Les Elevateurs des Trois-Rivieres. [Related story]

In the wake of this winter’s grain rail traffic logjam on the Prairies, CWB recently launched a Mission Terminal trucking program, in which it offered grain growers in the eastern Prairies the opportunity to deliver their CWB pool and cash wheat and durum contracts directly to the Thunder Bay port facility.

In January, CWB also took a 10 per cent stake in a farmer-owned grain elevator operation, Prairie West Terminal, which includes five sites in western Saskatchewan. [Related story]

Before its deregulation, CWB in early 2011 also made a $65 million deal to buy two new Chinese-built Equinox-class gearless bulk “laker” vessels to move grain on the Great lakes/St. Lawrence system. — Network


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