One of Brandon’s largest employers is getting set for a major upgrade beginning next month.
Koch Fertilizer will start a $30-million project that will include the installation of production equipment and process improvements.
Paul Baltzer, a spokesperson for Koch, said the investment is aimed at improving the operational efficiency at the plant and will lay the foundation to increase production.
"The improvements include the installation of new equipment and the associated processes to increase ammonia production capacity within the current footprint of the facility," Baltzer said from the company’s headquarters in Wichita, Kan.
Crews will move in next month with a completion date expected in January 2016.
The company, which is owned by the powerful Koch family from the United States, plans to increase its North American production by more than two million tonnes annually.
It produces products including anhydrous ammonia, urea, nitric acid, ammonium nitrate solution and ammonium thiosulfate.
While the upgrades will increase production, they won’t address concerns about emissions.
The chemical fertilizer plant is the second-largest polluter in the province behind Manitoba’s southwest oilpatch, according to data from the Manitoba government.
In 2011, the Koch plant emitted 701,106 tonnes of C02 equivalent.
"Koch Fertilizer Canada strives to comply fully with all applicable laws and regulations, including the permitted emission levels licensed by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship," Baltzer said. "The installation of this new equipment will not result in any change in the licensed production capacity of the facility."
Koch currently employs 298 full-time employees and has added more than 40 employees since the start of 2014, according to Baltzer.
The upgrades aren’t expected to generate any additional positions, but the company still has openings for 20 full-time people, including production shift supervisors, power engineers and process control engineers, among others.
The plant and terminals serve agricultural markets throughout Canada and the northern United States.
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