An open house took place in Lanigan April 26 to introduce area residents to the new railcar maintenance and staging facility to be built near town.
Employees of Canpotex, the international marketing agency for Saskatchewan's potash, were on hand to walk residents through the project, which is just getting underway.
The new $55 million facility is expected to generate 20 permanent jobs. About 40 people will be employed full time during construction.
The facility will be located at a site 12 kilometres southwest of Lanigan, in the Rural Municipality of Usborne.
Supported by both CN and CP Railways, the station will be operated by Procor Ltd. It will include an all-weather inspection and light repair station, automated railcar wash, and a wheel maintenance facility. Switchers, welders, machinists and mechanics will be among those hired.
At present, the facility is expected to handle potash mined by Potash Corp. and Mosaic. However, BHP Billiton is not presently a part of the Canpotex equation.
Jon Somers, Canpotex vice-president of planning and development, said the company is certainly open to working with BHP, but thus far no contact has been made.
"It could happen, but it's a decision they will need to make," he said.
Canpotex uses about 5,000 railcars specifically designed to carry potash through the varied terrain and severe climate changes that occur between Saskatchewan and the west coast. The new facility means more maintenance of those railcars will take place in Saskatchewan, rather than at their facility in Vancouver.
Public consultations on the new facility took place last November. Since then, an environmental impact assessment has been completed on the site.
Site grading and drainage work will commence in May, and should take four to six months. Plans include provisions for an ecological protection plan, and water used in railcar maintenance will be recycled and cleaned via a pressured amoebic filtration system.
Construction on the buildings themselves will get underway this summer, and the facility should be fully operational by the fall of 2012.