Boom continues as grain companies build, expand new elevators

An elevator building boom on the Prairies shows no signs of slowing as new facilities continue to come on line and existing ones are upgraded to accommodate faster unload times, more efficient rail car loading and longer grain trains.

During the past few weeks, four high throughput concrete grain elevators have been opened across the West. They include a pair of new G3 Canada facilities located at Pasqua, Sask., and Glenlea, Man., and two Viterra concretes at Grimshaw, Alta., and Kindersley, Sask.

Together, those four facilities will add close to 150,000 tones of commercial storage capacity to the western Canadian grain handling industry.

Paterson Grain is also constructing a pair of 55,000 tonne elevators in Daysland and Bowden, Alta.

In central Saskatchewan, Cargill and Richardson are expanding existing facilities at Davidson, Sask.

Cargill officials were in the community June 23 to mark the completion of their upgrade, which included the addition of four concrete storage bins, a 120-foot scale with 85 tonne capacity, a 50,000-bushel per hour conveyor, a 160 foot leg and an expanded 100-car rail spot.

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Richardson is also upgrading its Pioneer facility in Davidson, with additional steel storage and an expanded rail car spot.

Jeff Wildeman, Cargill’s regional manager for Saskatchewan, said the expansion will increase storage capacity by more than 10,000 tonnes to roughly 25,000.

“We know that there is a lot of grain that has left this area heading to other delivery points so we’re excited to provide customers an opportunity to deliver that grain locally,” said Wildeman.

He said nearly 25 percent of Cargill Canada’s annual investment takes place in Saskatchewan.

The company has invested roughly $300 million in the province over the past five years with major construction or expansion projects in Clavet and Davidson.

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Mike Hahn, operations manager at the Davidson facility, said the new scale and handling systems will allow farmers to get in and out of the elevator more quickly.

“From our perspective, it’s really going to allow us to increase the speed that we handle the grain,” Hahn said.

With proper scheduling, the new systems will be able to unload six to seven Super Bs per hour, compared to two or three per hour previously.

The Davidson facility will be closed for about three weeks in July for construction of a 120 foot shed over the scale, he added.

Hahn and Wildeman said they hope the facility will handle upward of 300,000 tonnes of grain per year.

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“Given the crop that’s coming and how good it looks, we’ll definitely have a shot at getting there…” added Hahn.