Viterra to boost Vancouver port terminal throughput

Viterra plans to upgrade its Pacific grain terminal by 2016. (Photo courtesy Port Metro Vancouver)

Canada’s biggest grain handler plans to take on a $100 million-plus list of “improvements and upgrades” to boost annual throughput at its Pacific Elevators terminal in Vancouver to as much as six million tonnes.

“This is a significant investment spanning several projects, that when completed, will enhance our strategic position on the West Coast, and our ability to continue meeting the needs of our destination customers globally,” Kyle Jeworski, Viterra’s CEO for North America, said in a release Thursday.

The Pacific terminal, on the south shore of Burrard Inlet, processes and ships a “wide variety of agricultural commodities,” including canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans and corn.

Most significant on its list of upgrades, Viterra said, will be a new ship loader system for the terminal, expected to “significantly” increase its shipping capacity and allow for loading of “post-Panamax” vessels.

“Post-Panamax” describes vessels wider than Panamax ships, which in turn are the largest able to fit through the current lock chambers on the Panama Canal.

Other projects at Pacific include the installation of new bulk weighers, upgrades to shipping conveyors and rotary cleaners, and improved electrical and dust control systems, Viterra — the Regina-based Canadian grain handling arm of Glencore Xstrata — said Thursday.

All of these initiatives are expected to be completed by 2016, leaving Pacific with a rated throughput capacity of up to six million tonnes a year, the company said.

The terminal, served by both Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railways, has one-time storage capacity of 136,100 tonnes as of August 2013, according to the Canadian Grain Commission. Before its merger with Agricore United into Viterra, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in 2007 pegged the Pacific terminal’s annual throughput capacity at two million tonnes.

Robin Silvester, CEO for Port Metro Vancouver, described the planned upgrades in Viterra’s release Thursday as “an excellent example of increasing capacity and efficiency within (the terminal’s) existing footprint.”

Viterra’s Prairie grain-handling competitor, Richardson International, last year got clearance from PMV for $120 million in expansion work at its North Vancouver terminal. [Related story]

Those expansions are expected to boost the terminal’s one-time capacity to 178,000 tonnes and annual throughput to more than five million tonnes, up from three million, when completed next year. –– Network


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