Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vancouver USA Attracts Major Bulk Firm, Finalizes Steel Plant Deal

The Washington state Port of Vancouver has revealed that it is working on a deal with global mining firm BHP Billiton to develop a major new bulk export facility at the port.

The announcement came as Gov. Chris Gregoire visited the port on Wednesday and touted recent efforts by port officials to boost local jobs creation.

Port officials said a tentative agreement with the Melbourne, Australia-based BHP would see the development of a 30-acre to 40-acre potash fertilizer export facility at the port's 218-acre Terminal 5. The port, which has yet to determine the financial aspects of the plan, hopes to have the deal finalized and a lease agreement with BHP in place by early 2012. If completed as expected sometime in 2014, the facility would open in 2015, more than doubling the port's annual cargo tonnage.

During her visit, Gov. Gregoire also praised Tuesday's unanimous decision by the port's Board of Commissioners to sell 20 acres of port property to a Eugene, Ore.-based firm who wants to build a steel fabrication plant on the parcel.

The $5 million sale of surplus port property to private manufacturer Farwest Steel ran counter to normal port policy to lease port parcels, but commissioners said the economy outweighed such concerns. Farwest has said that the proposed plant would initially employ 100 workers with the potential to employ as many as 228 workers with an average salary of just over $40,000, plus benefits.

Farwest plans to spend between $20 million and $30 million to develop the plant.
Farwest officials said the firm plans to take advantage of the port's rail access and the new facility, when completed, is expected to receive 200 to 300 rail cars a year. The proposed 300,000 square foot facility, which in addition to manufacturing would also include distribution and office space, could be built and operational by late 2011 or early 2012.

Under the terms of the deal, the port can purchase back the 20-acre parcel is Farwest does not begin construction of the plant within 12 months, maintain 100 workers at the facility, keep the property in industrial use, or halts activity on the site.