UPDATE 1-CWB to build first grain elevator in hoped-for Canada network

Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:57pm EDT
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(Adds CEO comments starting at paragraph 3)

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 24 (Reuters) - CWB has started building the first in what it hopes will be a network of grain elevators as the company formerly known as the Canadian Wheat Board attempts to re-position itself as an independent grain handler.

CWB said on Monday that it will build a grain elevator at Bloom, Manitoba, and it will be ready to receive grain for the 2015 harvest. The high-throughput elevator, near Portage la Prairie, will have 33,900 tonnes of crop storage.

The company, controlled by the Canadian government, hopes to buy and build more grain elevators and secure a foothold in Port Metro Vancouver, the country's biggest port, CWB Chief Executive Ian White said in an interview.

"We're trying to put together a network of country and port assets that will make us a reasonably significant sustainable player in the Canadian industry," White said. "What we're really doing is starting to look at one part of our strategy, to build some elevators in places we think are appropriate.

"This is the first announcement of those."

CWB has downsized sharply since the government removed its marketing monopoly on most Western Canadian wheat and barley in August 2012. Since then, the Winnipeg-based company has bought and sold farmers' wheat, durum, barley, canola and peas, relying mainly on grain facilities owned by rivals such Richardson International Ltd and Cargill Ltd.

CWB started to assemble its own network of handling facilities in November, when it acquired Mission Terminal Inc from Upper Lakes Group. Mission Terminal includes a terminal at Thunder Bay, Ontario, a grain facility at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, and a stevedoring service.   Continued...