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Richardson to upgrade western Manitoba elevator

High-throughput to replace wooden crib structure at Swan River

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Prairie grain handler Richardson Pioneer plans to start work this spring on a new high-throughput elevator “effectively replacing” its Swan River Valley unit in northwestern Manitoba.

The Winnipeg company’s current site, on Canadian National Railway (CN) track about six kilometres north of the town of Swan River, is anchored by a wooden crib workhouse and up until 2001 had about 4,850 tonnes of storage capacity.

Richardson in 2002 began to add steel bin storage at the site, which according to the Canadian Grain Commission has capacity today for about 28,310 tonnes of grain.

“While the current original wood structure has served an important role in supporting our customers within the Swan River Valley, it is nearing the end of its useful life span,” Richardson Pioneer’s chief operations officer Darwin Sobkow said Monday in a release.

The new high-throughput, which Richardson expects to complete by August next year, is to have 36,600 tonnes of storage capacity and a loop track system to load 150 rail cars.

The new site will also have high-speed receiving and loadout, a “modern and efficient” grain cleaning system and a new 4,600-square foot office, the company said.

The site will remain “fully operational during the entire construction period through the existing grain and crop inputs facilities,” Richardson said.

The company, Sobkow said, has had a “significant presence” in the Swan River Valley for over 40 years and redevelopment there is “the next logical course of action.”

Privately-held Richardson is the only major Prairie grain handler with capacity at Swan River. In 2007 it also picked up an older elevator in town from Agricore United, as the latter company prepared to merge into Viterra.

However, under order from the federal Competition Bureau that year, Richardson dealt that site away to Cargill, which already owned another small older elevator nearby.

Cargill in 2015 shut down and demolished both its Swan River elevators, saying they would need “significant and costly” upgrades to remain in operation. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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