The Koch Fertilizer plant in Brandon’s east end. On Thursday, the company announced it will invest $30 million in the local plant to boost the amount of ammonia it produces here. The upgrades are expected to begin in the second half of 2014, with completion anticipated in late 2015.
Koch Fertilizer will invest $30 million in its Brandon plant to boost the amount of ammonia it produces here.
The project will include the installation of production equipment and process improvements, and provides the foundation for a series of further ammonia projects to increase capacity, which could total 90,000 additional tons annually. However, a company spokesperson couldn’t say which projects were in the pipeline.
Construction for the project is expected to begin in the second half of 2014 with completion anticipated in late 2015.
In addition to the planned increase in ammonia production, the company is also considering a project that would increase urea production capacity at the Brandon plant, but provided no further details.
"This investment in infrastructure and increased capacity supports our continuing efforts to provide value for our customers," senior vice-president Scott McGinn said in a press release.
"We will continue to evaluate further production expansion opportunities."
Koch employs about 260 people in Brandon. The local plant is one of more than 60 Koch facilities across North America.
Former Simplot plant manager Don Pottinger said it makes sense for Koch to capitalize on the relenting demand for fertilizer.
"I would say if they’re looking at more downstream production, it makes all kinds of sense, and I assume they are," he said.
To put the expansion in perspective, Pottinger said the additional capacity is equal to how much the original Simplot building produced when it was built in the 1950s.
"It’s significant," he said.
Demand for the nitrous — in its many forms — is drastically increasing in the northern United States and Western Canada, with no signs of slowing down, Pottinger said.
"The forecast for increased need in the Dakotas and the rest of Canada is pretty well straight up," he said. "And it doesn’t look like much is going to get in the way of that and I think it’s a smart move."
No jobs will be created as a result of the expansion, according to Koch spokesperson Paul Baltzer, but he pointed to the plant’s need to fill 29 existing positions right away.
The chemical fertilizer plant is the second-biggest polluter in the province behind Manitoba’s southwest oilpatch.
In 2011, the Koch plant emitted 701,106 tons of C02 equivalent.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 20, 2013