Farmers of North America (FNA) announced last week it had selected land near Belle Plaine for its proposed $1.7 billion nitrogen fertilizer plant.
Since FNA first conceptualized the project in 2010, it has been the intention to put the plant in western Canada where producers pay some of the highest rates on the continent for fertilizer. On June 18, spokesperson Bob Friesen said the Belle Plaine location is ideal because it meets several key conditions.
These include: access to natural gas supply, existing electrical power infrastructure, ample water supply, existing road and railway infrastructure and a regional skilled workforce.
Saskatchewan agriculture minister Lyle Stewart, whose constituency includes Belle Plaine was pleased with the announcement.
“It means more development in the Belle Plaine industrial hub and Moose Jaw-Regina corridor,” he said.
“It means more employment, which is always welcome, and more nitrogen fertilizer should be good for the producers.”
FNA estimates the plan will create approximately 1,900 construction jobs and 170 permanent positions once the plant is operational.
While Friesen said the announcement represents “an important step in the project development and demonstrates a distinctly tangible milestone,” there is still a long way to go to make the plant a reality, not the least of which is raising the equity.
In 2012, the organization offered farmers the chance become a partner in the project by purchasing seed capital units. On the strength of farmer participation in raising the capital, FNA was able to bring on strategic engineering and financial partners.
FNA predicts global demand for fertilizer will continue to grow for the foreseeable future and points out North America consumes more than it produces by 7.6 million tons.