WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada’s biggest grain terminal on a throughput basis plans to open at Port Metro Vancouver in 2019, nearly one year ahead of schedule, the chief executive of grain handler G3 Canada Limited said on Friday.
The terminal, capable of handling 8 million tonnes of crops annually on the north shore of Burrard Inlet, will be the first new grain facility in 50 years at the port, Canada’s busiest.
G3’s terminal and its country elevators that buy farmers’ crops are designed to include the fastest rail and ship loading times in Canada, CEO Karl Gerrand said, giving G3 a competitive advantage against bigger rivals.
“Canada has proven over the years to be a very stable supplier of high-quality grain. The problem Canada has had is we’ve been less than efficient at getting that grain to market,” Gerrand said in an interview.
Winnipeg-based G3 is a partnership of Saudi Arabian agriculture company SALIC and U.S. grain handler Bunge Ltd.
After the massive 2013 Canadian harvest, railway shipments bogged down, creating a backlog that disrupted sales and put financial pressure on farmers. Canada is a major wheat and canola exporter.
The Vancouver terminal, designed with efficiencies such as a loop railway track, is on course for a fall, 2019 opening, ahead of the previous mid-2020 plan, Gerrand said.
Ninety percent of the capital to build the terminal has been spent or committed through supply and service contracts, he said.
“We’re all in on this terminal,” Gerrand said.
He declined to estimate its cost. G3 is in talks with other grain companies to use up to 3 million of the terminal’s 8 million tonne annual throughput, he said.
The port’s north shore is home to grain terminals owned by Richardson International and Cargill Ltd [CARGIL.UL]. It is served by Canadian National Railway Co track.
To gather crops from farm areas to send by rail to the Vancouver terminal, G3 is planning five new country elevators, added to the nine western elevators it already has and two under construction.
Four new elevators are slated for Alberta, in Vermilion, Morinville, Wetaskiwin and Carmangay, with another set for Maidstone, Saskatchewan, according to a source familiar with the plans.
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Tom Brown