GrainsConnect puts its third elevator in Vegreville, Alta.

Grain farmers in northeastern Alberta will soon have access to another new elevator.

GrainsConnect Canada, a joint venture between Australian grain company GrainCorp and Japan-based Zen-Noh Grain Corp., has confirmed plans to build a $30 million high throughput elevator at Vegreville, Alta., about 100 kilometres east of Edmonton.

The facility will include 35,000 tonnes of concrete storage and looped rail access. GrainsConnect president Warren Stow said the new elevator is the third of four new construction projects planned for the western Prairies.

The company has started building a similar facility at Maymont, Sask., about 90 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. It is expected to be operational late this year.

The company also announced plans late last year to build a concrete facility south of Wilkie, Sask., about 160 kilometres west of Saskatoon.Foundation work is already underway.

Construction is well underway at GrainsConnect’s Maymont, Sask., elevator. | GrainConnect photo

All told, GrainsConnect plans to spend about $120 million on four new prairie elevators.

The location of the fourth facility has yet to be confirmed but an announcement is expected within the next three months.

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Stow said Vegreville is known as a highly productive area. Production is focused largely on the four main crops that GrainsConnect intends to handle — wheat, barley, canola and peas.

“We look for good crop production areas and Vegreville has that,” he said. “That particular area also has limited competition at this point so we felt like it was a really solid location for us.”

The proposed site also offers good access by road and rail.

“We’re on CN’s north line there so we feel like we’ll have good rail access and we’ve also been working with the county and the province on road access as well.”

Stow said the company is in the process of finalizing a deal to secure west coast port access.

“We can’t say anything at this point but as soon as we’re able … we’ll be making an announcement in that regard.”

All four GrainsConnect facilities will follow a similar blueprint, including 35,000 tonnes of storage and looped rail.

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Each will have the ability to load 134 rail cars in roughly 14 hours.

Stow said efficiencies associated with loop tracks are changing the way grain is shipped in Western Canada.

“There aren’t that many of these facilities out there so we think there’s some significant upside to the volumes we can do. I don’t want to put a number on it, per se, but … we’re building these things with the ability to ship a lot of tonnes.”

The Vegreville facility is scheduled to come on line in late 2018, about a year after the Maymont facility starts receiving grain.

“About every six months we expect to bring one on line.”

Construction at Vegreville is expected to begin this summer.

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