By R. Bruce Striegler

Responding to a question as to why G3 Global Holdings is proceeding with a new Vancouver grain terminal, Brett Malkoske, G3’s Vice-President, Business Development and Communications says, “Straight-up need, Canadian farmers are some of the best in the world at what they do, which is grow grain.” He points out that production in Western Canada in particular has been growing at a fairly constant pace for some time. “Due to our smaller population, domestic consumption of these goods is relatively stagnant, so a substantial amount of what we’re growing has to be exported, and that growth is coming from Asia.”

Mr. Malkoske says that as an industry, “We’ve seen a shift over the past several decades. A lot of Canadian grain volume used to head off to the east coast destined for countries in Europe, along the Mediterranean or in Africa.” Now, he says, “The vast majority of Canadian grain is being shipped from the west coast. If you look at the existing infrastructure that is there, and take into account the record crops produced during 2013-14, the infrastructure just can’t handle that large of a movement anymore. “

G3 Global Holdings is a limited partnership between Bunge Canada and SALIC Canada, a subsidiary of Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC). On this project, G3 has added another player, forming a joint-partnership with Western Stevedoring Company Limited, to evaluate feasibility and permitting. The new terminal is being constructed on the site previously occupied by Lynnterm West Gate in North Vancouver. Primary materials handled at the G3 facility will include wheat, soybeans, canola, peas, corn (occasionally) and some specialty by-products.

‘Game-changing’ rail loop will handle up to three 134-car trains

The project was approved subject to 74 conditions, set out by Port of Vancouver. Construction began in early March and will be completed in the second quarter of 2020. Mr. Malkoske says full commissioning is scheduled in the second or third quarter of 2020. “We’ll be ready to go for the 2020 harvest.” The estimated cost of the project is within the $500 million plus category. The plan includes removal of existing buildings and facilities, and construction of the new grain terminal and a berth for ships. An estimated six million tonnes of grain will be moved annually through the facility, which includes 48 concrete grain storage silos.

G3’s Vancouver terminal will feature a r ail loop track that will be capable of holding three 134-car trains, unique to grain exporting terminals in Canada. “Unlike any of the infrastructure on the west coast, we’ll be able to take trains, intact, on to our site, without ever stopping, over the unload pit and discharge the 134-car unit train in six hours, significantly lower than the industry standard today. It’s all about creating throughput velocity, not only for the facility, but for the railways as well.” Mr. Malkoske notes that the new terminal design has managed to fit 11 kilometres of rail onto an approximate 60-acre site.

The terminal will have a capacity of 180,000 metric tonnes of storage. A conveyor system network begins at the railcar receiving facility, and travels partially through an underpass, onto the terminal’s bulk scale and sampling systems, then on to the storage facility the cleaning house, and finally onto the ship loading facility. Malkoske notes the cleaning system will be able to clean grain to “export specs” within the facility.

The existing wharf will be demolished in part, and a berth structure will be added that includes pile driving 25 metres (82 ft.) south of the existing berth to support up to three ship-loading cranes.

“We’ll be able to handle everything from Handy-max up to post-Panamax size vessels. Our maximum load rate will be in the 6,500-tonne range. So, again, very fast, and we’ll be able to load at rates much, much faster than our competition.” The ship loading system will include three articulated booms that can load ships up to a post-Panamax size. Dust aspiration systems that collect grain dust and in some instances turn it into a pelletized commodity to be sold to the local animal feed industry. As part of this system, pelleted by-product storage bins will be used for truck load-out.

Included in the new construction is a maintenance shop, a control centre and administration office with locker rooms for staff. There will also be a longshore building for stevedoring personnel breaks, complete with restroom facilities. A new electrical substation and protection equipment will be built, along with new access roads and underpasses to ensure unencumbered operational traffic flow.

Malkoske makes a point of noting that safety and sustainability are at the core of everything the Company does. “When you think of employee safety, for example, where there were Fey ladders, we’re building stairs.” He adds that when it comes to sustainability, “We’ve incorporated all the most modern technology to reduce dust, reduce noise and emissions. We feel we’ve done a good job on the design, and there will be no discernable impact on the surrounding community.” Mr. Malkoske says that most local feedback has been quite positive. “Generally, people understand this is not coal or some other highly polluting product. It’s food we’re moving, and we thank the community for their input.”