New elevator ‘first of many:’ CWB

CWB is adding another elevator to its small but growing network of grain collection facilities in Western Canada.

The grain company announced March 24 that it is building a new, state-of-the-art, high-throughput elevator at Bloom, Man., west of Portage la Prairie.

The facility will have storage capacity of 34,000 tonnes, a 130 car rail loop and load-out capacity of 60,000 bushels per hour.

Construction will begin immediately, and completion is scheduled for next year. The first deliveries of grain are expected in the fall of 2015.

CWB president Ian White said the new project is “the first of many” that will likely be announced in the coming months.

Most grain delivered to the central Manitoba location will be shipped through Mission Terminal, a 138,000 tonne export facility at Thunder Bay, Ont., which CWB bought late last year.

“This location supports our recent Mission Terminal purchase pretty well because it will be mainly eastern movement grain that would come out of this (facility),” White said.

“It’s really just the first of many, but it does support our eastern strategy at this point.”

White said CWB has identified several locations in Western Canada that would allow the company to become a meaningful player in the region’s grain industry.

He declined to say how many facilities the company would like to build or acquire but said CWB’s network will eventually include facilities in all three prairie provinces.

“You have to have enough millions of tonnes so that you’re a significant enough player and so that you’re sustainable in the industry,” he said.

To reach that level, CWB would like to have facilities and partnership agreements to accommodate handling at least five million tonnes per year.

“Eventually, when we privatize … we’d like this to be a company that has enough spread across the Prairies with enough facilities so that it can be a significant and meaningful player.”

The Bloom elevator, which is CWB’s first construction project since the elimination of single desk marketing, will be financed through a combination of existing CWB equity and debt financing.

The project is expected to cost $25 to $30 million.

Other assets already in the CWB network include Mission Terminal, Les Élévateurs des Trois-Rivières in Quebec and a minority interest in Prairie West Terminal at several Sask-atchewan sites.

Federal legislation requires CWB to submit a plan to Ottawa to privatize the company before Aug. 1, 2016.

The company unveiled the framework for its privatization plan last year, offering equity to farmers who contract grain through CWB.

Farmers will be offered $5 worth of equity in the company after privatization for every tonne of CWB grain contracted in 2013-14. White said the equity plan will likely remain in place for five to seven years.

“Every tonne of grain delivered to Bloom will be tracked for the purposes of CWB’s farmer ownership plan,” he said.

“We want farmers to have a stake in their value chain after privatization.”

The Bloom facility will be accessible from a number of truck routes, including the Trans-Canada and the Yellowhead highways, at several sites in Saskatchewan.

It will be serviced by the Canadian National Railway’s mainline.

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