They've gobbled up the hamlet of Northgate and a large section of nearby land, including property on the North Dakota side of the community and now Ceres Global Ag Corp. management personnel are in the analysis mode regarding the future development on that land according to their chief financial officer.
Corus Land Holdings, an affiliate of Ceres, a publicly traded company that owns grain handling facilities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Ontario, Wisconsin, Wyoming and New York, recently completed the purchase of 168 townsite lots (approximately 60 acres) in the hamlet of Northgate at a cost of just over $118,000 and some nearby agricultural lands.
John Gould, the CFO for Ceres and the company spokesman, did not say what the land would be used for, but with Corus and Ceres being affiliated with Riverland Ag Corp., a Minneapolis-based grain storage and marketing business with facilities in the U.S. and Canada, the speculation of a major grain-handling facility being constructed on the site is running rampant.
With nearby railroad tracks available and a former modest grain car loading facility already in place, the rumours appear to be leaning toward a facility that would accommodate the sale and transportation of Saskatchewan grains to an American storage and/or processing facility now that an unrestricted grain market exists in Canada with the demise of the former Canadian Wheat Board's single desk monopoly.
An RM of Enniskillen administration official confirmed the purchase of the land on the Canadian side had been made and completed and Gould noted that land on the North Dakota side of Northgate was also purchased.
Gould confirmed the Toronto-based development company had received approval for the purchase from the Saskatchewan Farmland Security Board. This is necessary for anyone from outside the province wishing to purchase more than 10 acres of farmland in Saskatchewan.
A Richardson Pioneer elevator is located in Northgate but it has been sitting unused for several years, while a General Mills elevator is situated on the North Dakota side.
Further rumours are being fuelled by the fact that Corus/Ceres holds a 25 per cent ownership position in the Stewart Southern Shortline Inc., a shortline railroad system that extends from Stoughton northwest to Kronau, a distance of 132 kilometres.
In recent months shortline rail systems have been contracted to haul crude oil from the southern Saskatchewan oilpatch, linking them to the mainlines and then on to refineries. Stewart Southern is currently loading and shipping up to 4,000 barrels of oil per day. Gould said he could not confirm or deny that prospects such as this are currently part of their ongoing analysis. “All options are considered,” he said.
Private land holders who have sold to Corus have until November to move personal property.
Lisa White, a spokesperson for Canadian Border Services Agency, said there has been no request made of them to increase their hours of service at the Northgate Port in the near future.
Asked if there was a scheduled timeline associated with the analysis and planning, Gould said “there is no internal timeline for the company at this point.”
Ceres, with its main grain storage facilities, has a total capacity of 55 million bushels.
Ceres has been an active purchaser of Canadian cereal grains, with oats being the primary product purchased prior to the dismantling of the CWB as a single-desk entity. But, it was anticipated that with the opening of the market, more wheat and barley would be added to those purchase plans now that the CWB's hold on those grains has been lifted.