Expanded crush plant will gobble up another million tonnes of canola

Richardson expansion in Yorkton, Sask., is good for the entire canola sector, says Winnipeg company

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A major expansion of a Richardson International crushing plant in Saskatchewan is expected to see another one million tonnes of canola processed on the Prairies annually.

“The global outlook for Canadian canola oil is promising, and this latest investment emphasizes our ongoing commitment to best-in-class facilities,” said Darrell Sobkow, the company’s senior vice-president for processing, food and ingredients.

Richardson said the round of “upgrades and improvements” at its Yorkton facility will double its processing capacity and allow it to process over 2.2 million tonnes of canola seed per year. The upgrade would also give the plant a “high-speed shipping system” with three 9,500-foot loop tracks that can serve both major Canadian railways, as well as three high-speed receiving lanes for deliveries by farmers and truckers.

Canadian canola crushers have been operating at a sizzling pace this year. Although the total crush dipped slightly below 800,000 tonnes in February, the prior four months had set records with 900,000 tonnes of seed processed monthly.

The Yorkton processing and oil refining plant “will be dedicated to moving canola crush products at some of the most efficient levels seen in North America,” Richardson said.

Construction at the site, due to be completed in early 2024, won’t disrupt current operations, the company said.

“We opened the original Yorkton plant in 2010 and at that time, it was by far the largest capital investment Richardson had ever undertaken,” said CEO Curt Vossen.

“Saskatchewan and Manitoba producers have responded effectively, providing growth in canola production over the years — this has given us the confidence to move forward with expansion once again.”

Richardson International’s canola crush plant at Yorkton, Sask. is doubling its processing capacity. photo: CNW Group/Richardson International

Richardson has been aggressively dialling up its Prairie crush in the past decade, including a $30-million expansion at York­ton in 2014. More recently, in 2017, it brought a $120-million expansion online at its Lethbridge canola-processing and oil-packaging plant, bringing that facility’s annual crush to over 700,000 tonnes per year.

The southern Alberta plant, billed by Richardson as one of the first in the world to market canola oil, was previously expanded in 2015, which in turn followed a $15-million expansion on its bottling and packaging facility in 2012.

The Yorkton expansion is good for the entire canola sector, said the plant’s director of operations.

“This state-of-the-art facility represents a good news story for all industry participants — for our producer customers and end-use buyers across North America and abroad,” said Keith Belitski.

There are 14 crush facilities in Canada. The 11 in Western Canada process canola while three in the East handle both canola and soybeans.

“Over the last decade, approximately $2 billion have been invested in plant construction; crush capacity has more than doubled, reaching a new high of 11.0 million tonnes for canola and 3.2 million tonnes for soybeans in 2020,” says the website of the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, which represents the six companies that own the crushing plants.

In the decade leading up to 2020, the canola crush grew by 56 per cent to 10.3 million tonnes annually, according to the association.

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