In a $190M day, Yorkton gets 2 canola-crushing plants

In the wink of an eye, Yorkton, Sask. has turned into one of the canola-crushing capitals of Canada.

In the wink of an eye, Yorkton, Sask., has turned into one of the canola-crushing capitals of Canada.

Two companies separately announced Thursday that they'll be building large plants for processing the oilseeds in the southeast Saskatchewan city.

The first announcement came from James Richardson International Ltd.,which says it will start construction next year ona $100-million plant. The state-of-the-art plant will be capable of processing 840,000 tonnes of canola per year when the building is finished, in 2008 or 2009.

The second announcement, which came about an hour after the first, was from Louis Dreyfus Canada Ltd.,which said its $90-million canola-crushing facility will be operational in 2008.The Louis Dreyfus plant will be able to handle 850,000 tonnes of canola a year.

SaskatchewanDeputy PremierClay Serbysaid having two canola plants will be a major boost to the community as well as farmers. Both plants will have the capacity to crush oil for biodiesel plants, as well as the food industry,said Serby, who represents the Yorkton constituency.

TheWinnipeg-based James Richardson company said it chose Yorkton over five sites in Manitoba and North Dakota because it is located in the heart of Western Canada's prime canola-growing region.

President Curt Vossen said the company's decision to build in Yorkton was dictated by location, not politics.

"At the end of the day, the true rationale, the total rationale for where we're putting this project has to do with natural advantage that has nothing to do with governmental policy," Vossen said.

"The single largest advantage, I think, that the selected location has over the others is [the] proximity to that raw material."

The community also has access to major rail carriers, a good highway system and the necessary infrastructure.

Richardson said earlier that the plant will create more than 60 highly skilled jobs, and stimulate local employment in transportation and related industries.

The new plant will triple Richardson's production of canola oil, an edible product that is used in salads, frying, margarine and potentially for bio-diesel fuel.

Richardson also owns Canbra Foods Ltd., which operates a canola crushing, refining and packaging plant in Lethbridge, Alta.

Meanwhile, Louis Dreyfus Canada, a Calgary-based grain-marketing company said its plant will create 45 full-time jobs. Construction on its plant is expected to being in the fall.