Global grain companies like what they see in central Alberta

GrainsConnect Canada is building a new $30-million elevator at Huxley 
while Agrocorp is expanding its Innisfail operation

The investment in Alberta grains sector continues.

GrainsConnect Canada has announced its second elevator for the province while Agrocorp Processing is moving ahead with a $6.5-million expansion of its local grain- and pulse-handling facility.

“What we are actually doing is building a new plant beside the old one,” said Colin Topham, Agrocorp’s managing director, adding the plan includes an extended 700-foot side rail track for the facility.

“They will be connected, but it is virtually a brand new facility that is being built. The storage infrastructure will be what’s added.

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“We will be doubling our rail capacity. Rail remains the cheapest way to move product to port and Innisfail is positioned as one of the best logistic arbitrage advantages in Canada.”

GrainsConnect Canada — jointly owned by Japan’s Zen-Noh and Australia’s GrainCorp — will build its new high-throughput elevator at Huxley, about 60 kilometres east of Innisfail. The $30-million 35,000-tonne grain terminal will have a 134-car rail loop and be able to load a unit train of that size in under 14 hours.

“We will have two sites in Saskatchewan and two in Alberta, offering choice and access to one of the most efficient supply chains to the West Coast,” GrainsConnect Canada president Warren Stow said in a release. “There has been strong grower interest in this area for more choice and we are excited to deliver a state-of-the-art facility to the region.”

The company’s three other elevators are under construction with first, in Maymont, Sask., due to open this fall and others (in Vegreville and Reford, Sask.) slated to be completed next year. The Huxley facility, on the CN line, will be operational in 2019, the company said.

GrainsConnect Canada was created two years ago and its business model is focused on having highly efficient and super-fast loading facilities. GrainCorp owned Canada Malting and had a grain trading office in Calgary while Zen-Noh is one of the world’s largest agricultural co-operatives and is the largest buyer of feed grains in Japan.

Agrocorp’s expanded facility will also feature the latest technology.

“It is going to be a state-of-the-art facility,” said Topham. “We will have automation and it will be technologically advanced and we are planning to double the volume, so unfortunately in the agriculture industry that means more people, but we love producing jobs.”

He described the Innisfail area as “one of the most competitive areas to buy grain in,” but said that wasn’t a deterrent.

“We have been in Innisfail for many years,” he said. “We have a good network there and good support.”

The transloading terminal, purchased by the company in 2015 from local entrepreneurs, currently handles 80,000 tonnes of grains, pulses, and oilseeds annually.

“It will be able to receive and process more product, everything from grains to beans,” said Topham.

The operation of the revamped plant will be extended from a seasonal facility to one open all year. It will also double the number of staff on site, from five workers to 10.

Agrocorp Processing is a subsidiary of Singapore-headquartered Agrocorp International Pte, which has a trading office in Vancouver, and four processing units in Alberta and Saskatchewan, including the one in Innisfail.

About the author

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Glenn Cheater is a veteran journalist who has covered agriculture for more than two decades. His mission is to showcase the ideas, passions, and stories of Alberta farmers and ranchers.

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