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New elevator ‘a dream come true’ for Peace Country community

New Richardson Pioneer facility the latest in a string of super-fast loading facilities on the Prairies

It’s been a hard growing season but producers in the High Level area have reason to celebrate — they will soon be enjoying the benefits of the movement that’s seeing new super-fast grain elevators pop up across the Prairies.

Richardson Pioneer has started construction on the new elevator, which will be connected to CN Rail track. It will have 32,000 tonnes of storage capacity and a loop track configuration able to load 135 rail cars, the company said. The current wooden crib elevator in the northern Peace Country community has 6,500 tonnes of storage capacity.

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The new facility, expected to be complete by fall 2020, will “work closely” with Richardson Pioneer’s new crop inputs business at nearby La Crete, bought in February from AgLand Seed and Chemical.

“The construction of this new facility, along with the recently acquired crop input business in La Crete, shows our long-term commitment to the area and ensures we will be able to meet our customers’ growing needs,” executive vice-president of operations Darwin Sobkow said in a news release.

The company also hailed the “collaborative efforts” of High Level town officials and of the High Level Agricultural Exhibition Association, which it said “ensured the project proceeded in a timely manner.” The Town of High Level, in a separate release, said the new elevator’s site will take up a section of land formerly occupied by the association.

“In order to facilitate the new project, the town has been working with the (association) to relocate to a new site nearby and is currently working to prepare the lot in advance,” it said.

The announcement is “a dream come true” for the town, said Mayor Crystal McAteer, adding that area farmers “will be able to save valuable time and thousands of dollars in transportation costs from not having to drive all the way to other grain-handling facilities.”

The High Level facility is the latest in a series of new terminals that promise to revolutionize grain handling on the Prairies. Loop tracks allow grain trains to leave the power on as they slowly circle the track. This not only speeds loading but eliminates the time-consuming task of powering up the air brakes later on.

When combined with new high-capacity hopper cars, this can produce major efficiency gains. Earlier this summer, a CP train pulled out of Paterson Grain’s new Bowden terminal with 14,821 tonnes in 147 new high-capacity hopper cars. In recent decades, the standard grain train hauled about 10,500 tonnes.

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