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Richardson to double down on Lethbridge crush

Canada’s second-biggest grain company is headed for the drawing board with the goal of doubling capacity at its canola processing plant in southern Alberta.

Winnipeg-based Richardson International’s oilseed processing arm said Wednesday it now plans to “more than double” the processing capacity of its plant at Lethbridge, which now handles about 1,200 tonnes of canola per day.

The expansion’s scope, design and costs are to be finalized “over the next eight months” for construction to begin in early 2014, toward completion by the end of 2015, the company said.

The company said its expansion is expected also to “enhance efficiencies at the facility through upgraded technology and increased automation.”

“Global demand for canola and canola oil continues to increase due to strong consumer demand for healthier food products,” Pat Van Osch, senior vice-president for Richardson Oilseed, said in a release.

“We are committed to making a significant investment in our Lethbridge plant to keep pace with increased demand and continue to grow our business.”

Richardson last year finished up a $15 million expansion on its canola packaging plant at Lethbridge, boosting that facility’s size by about 40 per cent.

The company in December also got federal approval to crank up its Prairie grain and oilseed intake through the purchase of 19 Viterra grain elevators from the Regina grain firm’s new owner, Swiss commodity giant Glencore.

Furthermore, Richardson in June last year announced plans for expansion by the end of this year at its new Yorkton, Sask. canola processing plant.

The Yorkton expansion would bump the three-year-old facility’s crush capacity to 3,000 tonnes per day, up from 2,400.

“With increased capacity at two state-of-the-art canola processing plants and strong origination capabilities through our expanding Richardson Pioneer network, we will be well positioned to service our customers and meet the needs of the global marketplace,” Van Osch said in Wednesday’s release.

In announcing the Yorkton plant last summer, Richardson noted the canola processing industry overall has boosted capacity by over 70 per cent in the last two years to meet rising demand for canola oil.

Related stories:
Richardson to boost storage at Alta. canola plant, Jan. 26, 2011
Richardson to boost Yorkton crushing capacity, June 20, 2012
Richardson cleared to buy into Viterra’s handle, Dec. 20, 2012