Richardson expands capacity

Company will add 28,000 tonnes of storage and upgrade input centres

The country’s largest agribusiness company will spend $40 million this year to expand and upgrade its network of grain elevators and crop input facilities in Western Canada.

Officials from Richardson International announced June 10 that the company will expand grain storage capacity at elevators in Carseland, Alta., Crooked River, Sask., and Shoal Lake, Man.

An additional 14,000 tonnes of storage will be added at each location, boosting capacities by 54 to 68 percent. Two new steel storage bins at each site will be able to hold 7,000 tonnes of grain.

The additional capacity will allow Richardson to accommodate ongoing growth in its local grain handling business and enable elevators to load 100-car trains more efficiently, said Darwin Sobkow, the company’s executive vice-president of agribusiness operations.

Richardson is also upgrading crop input facilities across the Prairies.

Recently acquired elevators at Arborg, Man., Letellier, Man., Kindersley, Sask., and Lacombe, Alta., will become full-service crop input centres with high-speed dry fertilizer blenders, bulk fertilizer storage and a 6,000 sq. foot chemical and seed storage warehouse.

Richardson acquired the four former Viterra locations earlier this year as part of an $800 million deal with Glencore International.

In early May, Richardson acquired 19 grain elevators, 13 crop input centres, an export terminal in Thunder Bay and an oat and wheat milling business from Glencore.

All but six of the elevators had crop input facilities on site.

“We are putting services into another four, so that means 17 of the 19 elevators that we acquired will have full crop input services,” Sobkow said.

Richardson is also building a 35,000 tonne fertilizer distribution centre at its Pioneer elevator north of Sask-atoon and will add high-speed dry fertilizer blenders at locations in Oyen, Alta., Magrath, Alta., Kamsack, Sask., Shellbrook, Sask., Saskatoon, and Shoal Lake, Man.

Construction is already underway at most locations, and completion of all projects is expected before the end of the year.

“We continue to make investments to better serve our current and future customers,” Sobkow said.

“We look to provide efficiencies by having fully integrated grain handling and crop inputs businesses and being a multiple-service provider.”

Sobkow said Richardson will be well-positioned to improve service to western Canadian farmers and expand its market share in the Canadian grain handling and crop input sectors.

He did not anticipate additional acquisitions, but said the company will continue to assess opportunities as they arise.

He did not rule out further investments aimed at enhancing facilities already owned by the company.

“We currently are not looking at any future acquisition opportunities at this time … but we will continue to add storage to our current network,” he said. “With Viterra becoming Glencore as well as the … (changes) at the wheat board, we believe that customers’ demands are changing and we want to be positioned … to meet those demands. We believe space is one component that will allow us to meet that demand from our customer base.”

Also last week, Cargill announced plans to increase rail capacity at its grain elevator and crop input facility at Rosetown, Sask.

Capacity will be doubled to 100 rail cars. Construction on the Rosetown project is slated to begin this month with completion anticipated in the fall.

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