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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Feb. 27, 2024

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Vancouver port hails ‘world-class’ soda ash shipping facility planned at Terminal 2

Vancouver Bulk Terminal partnering with Solvay on project

By , Columbian staff writer

The Port of Vancouver will soon add soda ash to its list of bulk exports. The port announced Wednesday that Vancouver Bulk Terminal and Solvay are partnering to build a “world-class” soda ash shipping facility at Terminal 2.

Terminal 2 Berth 7, west of the United Grain Corp. elevator, is a dry bulk export dock, currently home to a telescoping conveyor system and covered bulk storage. Wheat, scrap steel, bulk minerals like copper concentrate and pulp are among the port’s top exports.

The plan is for the berth to be redeveloped, beginning in 2024 and wrapping up in 2026. The reconstruction will include rail improvements, new enclosed storage, new conveyance and a modern ship loader, according to the port’s statement.

Vancouver Bulk Terminal, the company that runs the port’s heavy mineral bulk commodities operation, is partnering with Solvay, a Belgian company specializing in manufacturing and distributing chemicals and plastic goods. It currently operates Solvay Chemicals Inc. in Longview.

Solvay announced last year that it would be expanding its Green River, Wyo., soda ash operations. The Port of Vancouver terminal will export this soda ash around the globe. The new facility could process more than 2.5 million tons of soda ash each year, according to the statement.

The United States is the world’s largest producer of natural soda ash, according to an April report from Market.Us. North America represented 40 percent of global soda ash revenue in 2022.

“The increasing production of synthetic soda ash and increasing automotive industries are driving the growth of the market in the North America region,” read the report.

China and India are the largest consumers of soda ash worldwide, according to the report. China is already a top trading partner for the port.

Soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, is used in powdered detergents and soaps, glass manufacturing and rechargeable batteries, among other things.

In Wednesday’s announcement, Vancouver Bulk Terminal Director Brian Johnson pointed to soda ash being a “key component needed for numerous green products.”

Alex Strogen, chief commercial officer at the Port of Vancouver, said the partnership with Solvay would grow the port’s “role as a leading ‘green energy gateway’ on the U.S. West Coast.” The port is well known for importing wind turbines, as well as electric Subaru Solterras.

“This partnership with the port, Vancouver Bulk Terminal and Solvay equates to more jobs here locally, and more economic diversity for the port and therefore the Vancouver community in the years ahead,” Strogen said.

Job projections are still forthcoming, according to the port. The project is expected to generate construction jobs and permanent International Longshore and Warehouse Union labor once soda ash begins to be exported.