Viterra confirms elevator project at Vegreville

Grain growers near the town of Vegreville, Alta., are on the verge of getting not one but two new high-throughput concrete grain elevators, a scenario that will drastically change the way that grain is sold and delivered in the area.

Regina-based grainhandler Viterra confirmed Feb. 13 that it will build a new high-throughput elevator near Vegreville, about an hour east of Edmonton.

The proposed Viterra facility will feature a loop track rail system and will have total storage capacity of 35,000 tonnes, the company said in a new release issued earlier today (Feb. 13).

Viterra’s announcement coincides with similar announcement made by grain industry newcomer GrainsConnect Canada.

GrainsConnect, a joint venture between Australian grain company GrainCorp and Japan-based Zen-Noh Grain Corporation, is also planning to build a 35,000-tonne throughput elevator at Vegreville.

Details of that build were made public earlier this month.

Kyle Jeworski, Viterra’s president and chief executive officer for North America, said the Vegreville project with strengthen his company’s presence in the region.

“We have a long and successful history in this area of Alberta, so we’re proud to continue supporting our local customers with a new facility that will allow us to provide the industry-leading standard of service that Viterra is known for,” said Jeworski.

“Our new elevator will position us to connect these customers to global markets, backed by the expertise of our staff and the full suite of online tools that are available exclusively to Viterra customers. It will also complement our strong port presence, as we look to continue meeting the demands of our end users.”

Construction of Viterra’s new facility is expected to begin this spring.

All necessary regulatory approvals are in place, the company added.

Davin Gegolick, a planning and development officer with the County of Minburn, said GrainsConnect has yet to apply for a development permit.

For growers in the area, the announcement of not one but two new elevator projects will have a significant impact on local grain delivery routes.

The announcement of concurrent builds by two different companies also suggests that grain handlers are competing aggressively, not only for farmers grain but for prime construction spots that are currently considered underserviced

As it stands, the only elevator in the area is a Richardson-Pioneer facility located about 20 minutes east of Vegreville at the junction of Highways 16 and 36.

Grain that is not delivered to that elevator is typically delivered to Viking, Alta., about 60 kilometres south of Vegreville, or Star, Alta., about 70 kilometres northwest.

Viterra has been eyeing the Vegreville market for the past few years as a potential building site.

The company’s announcement is the latest in a flurry of grain industry investments that has taken place in recent years.

Construction projects either completed or announced over the past five years are believed to be worth more than $1.5 billion, with additional projects expected in the next few months.

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