Neptune Terminals is a shipping terminal on the North shore of Burrard Inlet that specialized in potash, steelmaking coal, and phosphate rock. From their website the following is about where the materials come from and what they are used for:
Potash is a naturally occurring, water soluble crop nutrient that is crucial to agriculture worldwide. Potash is a major ingredient in commercial fertilizers, which typically contain potassium (from potash), nitrogen and phosphate.
Saskatchewan, Canada is the world’s largest producer of potash, producing about one quarter of the world’s supplies.
The Canadian steelmaking coal handled at Neptune Terminals is used in the production of steel. Steelmaking coal is transported by rail from southeast British Columbia and northwest Alberta before being loaded onto ships at Neptune Terminals. Much of the coal we handle is destined for the steel mills of Korea, Japan and China.
Phosphate rock, an inert sand, is an essential plant nutrient and a key link in the global food chain, which helps feed the world. The product, from Morocco, is similar to coarse beach sand. As a result, it is easier and most efficient to handle when dry, so is covered for transportation and storage.
It was fascinating to see the sheer volume and size of the terminal. The trains that deliver potash and coal are more than half a kilometer long. And the piles of coal and potash sheds, while they appear quite large from the road, are staggeringly large once you get right up to them. All in all it was a fascinating trip to this bustling terminal.