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Port authority clears new West Coast terminal

Parrish and Heimbecker to start work next month

Work is expected to start within two weeks on a new port grain terminal expected to improve rail efficiency for grain shipments to Canada’s West Coast.

Prairie grain handler Parrish and Heimbecker announced Thursday it’s “moving forward” with the Fraser Grain Terminal project as proposed in late 2016, after receiving approval for its project permit last week from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

The new export facility, to be built on port land on the Fraser River at Surrey, is expected to address “two major constraints” in the Prairie grain sector — “limited Western Canada rail capacity, and a shortage of port industrial land for grain handling,” the company said Thursday in a release.

FGT said on its website it now expects to begin construction work on Dec. 3, putting its target for completion at December 2020.

FGT, when launched in 2016, was billed as a joint venture between P+H and another privately-held, Winnipeg-based firm, Paterson Grain. FGT’s website, however, now bills the venture as a “wholly owned subsidiary” of P+H.

FGT’s plan proposes to add annual throughput of 3.5 million tonnes at the project site. Combined with the existing grain terminal at the site, it would bring its total annual throughput to four million tonnes. The current terminal is a joint venture with Fraser Surrey Docks.

The new terminal is to have three “state-of the art” shiploaders and a fully-enclosed above-ground conveying system, the company said.

Crops loaded into the terminal’s silos would go mainly onto cargo ships, though the site will also have an “integrated” loading facility and container storage site to load rail cars and trucks to move grain to Fraser Valley customers, and containers for export via container terminals such as Deltaport.

FGT is expected to load about 80 bulk vessels a year, or about one to three vessels a week, including Panamax, Supramax and Handy-size vessels, the company said.

Most vessels would be fully loaded at FGT, though larger-class Panamaxes would be loaded to the maximum capacity according to guidelines for river draft (depth) and may be topped up later at deepwater terminals.

Once the new terminal is up and running, the site’s existing facility will convert to handle only “pelleted protein products” and its existing mobile shiploader would be decommissioned.

The “modern design” of the new facility and shiploaders is expected to limit noise and dust from grain handling and will also replace an “aging and obsolete” warehouse on vacant port land that hasn’t been used for more than two years, FGT said.

“The leading design that P+H chose will improve regional efficiency and safety, and help reduce dust and noise in the local community,” Randy Roller of FWS, P+H’s designer and construction contractor, said in P+H’s release.

The new site will include a semi-loop rail track, realign an existing rail track and extend three existing rail holding tracks northeast of the main site, to reduce shunting during unloading, the company said.

A P+H representative said in 2016 the terminal will connect directly with Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, BNSF and Southern Railway of British Columbia lines.

In all, P+H said Thursday, the FGT project is expected to extend existing rail loading areas and allow for high-speed rail car unloading, which would “improve loading efficiency, reduce rail shunting and dramatically improve rail car cycle times between the Prairies and metropolitan Vancouver.”

FGT noted exports of grains and specialty crops have increased since 2014 “with China and India becoming increasingly important destinations for Canadian products.”

“With so much of our grain exports going to Asia, anything that improves the speed of delivery is good for all Canadians,” Manitoba’s Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler said in P+H’s release Thursday.

“FGT provides desperately needed western export capacity for our farmers to reach global markets, one that will have a significant and positive impact locally and around the world,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said in the same release. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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