Viterra to run Montreal Port Authority grain terminal

Talks underway since January have led to a deal in which Viterra will lease and operate the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) Grain Terminal, starting in July.

The terminal’s “ideal location enhances our ability to expand Viterra’s origination and merchandising capabilities in both Canada and the U.S.,” Bob Miller, senior vice-president for North American grain for Viterra, said in a release Thursday.

The MPA terminal also “provides a wide range of logistical options to support efficient movement of high-quality food ingredients to key domestic and international markets,” he said.

The terminal facility includes a Canadian Grain Commission-licensed transfer elevator which operates year-round and has storage capacity of 262,000 tonnes.

The grain terminal, Viterra noted, is located “in the deepest inland seaport in North America” and has direct access to both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific rail lines as well as direct shipping routes to various ports in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

The facility now handles crops such as wheat, corn, barley, soybeans, peas and lentils, and includes a 400-tonne-per-hour rotary-screen grain sifter.

The terminal’s unloading berth, with a sidewater depth of 10.7 metres, can move 3,000 tonnes of grain per hour; the loading berth, which includes an automated loading gallery with three booms and has a sidewater depth of 8.23 metres, can handle 5,500 tonnes per hour.

During its 2009 season, the facility handled combined inbound and outbound cargo of 1.687 million tonnes of grain via maritime vessels and 730,805 tonnes via rail and truck, compared to 1.471 million tonnes via ships and 845,208 tonnes via rail and truck during 2008.

While all other marine grain terminals in Canada are privately operated, the Montreal terminal has never had an outside operator in the past. MPA formally made the grain terminal available for lease by public tender in September last year.

“Our grain terminal will now operate under the same business model as our other terminals, that is to say, by a specialized private operator, which will contribute greatly to its future success,” MPA CEO Sylvie Vachon said in Thursday’s release.

An agreement with a grain handler such as Regina-based Viterra “will make it possible to consolidate and increase grain traffic at the Port of Montreal, and enable the grain terminal to improve its competitive position while still providing high-calibre service to Quebec grain producers,” Vachon said.

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