Richardson International Limited has more than doubled its grain-handling capacity at the Port of Thunder Bay with the reopening of a mothballed grain terminal.
The Winnipeg-based agribusiness giant said Friday the Current River Terminal, which it acquired last year from Viterra, loaded its first grain vessel of the season on April 22.
"It was a team effort on the part of our terminal management and all employees to take a mothballed facility and breathe new life into it to enhance our operations in Thunder Bay," Darwin Sobkow, Richardson's executive vice-president, agribusiness operations and processing, said in a written statement.
"Current River is an excellent complement to our heritage facility," Sobkow said, "and will allow us to increase receiving and shipping efficiencies and capitalize on our ability to handle grains and oilseeds through the Eastern Canadian corridor."
The Current River terminal had been idle for about three years when Richardson acquired it in May of last year.
Company spokeswoman Tracey Shelton said workers spent the summer and early fall cleaning up the facility and grounds, commissioning the scales and restarting the terminal's operating systems.
She said they were able to load a couple of vessels before the close of the 2013 shipping season to make sure everything was running smoothy.
Shelton didn't know why Viterra closed the terminal, adding it's not as old as Richardson's 95-year-old heritage terminal.
The Current River Terminal will handle mainly canola, oats and wheat. It has a storage capacity of 235,000 tonnes, and the heritage terminal's capacity is 208,000 tonnes, giving Richardson a total of 443,000 tonnes capacity at Thunder Bay.
Shelton said adding a second terminal also meant nearly doubling employment levels within Richardson's Thunder Bay operations. It now employs about 100 workers.
-- Murray McNeill