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A container terminal at the port of Prince Rupert, B.C., in 2011.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

A container terminal at a northern British Columbia port announced an expansion Tuesday that will increase the facility's capacity by nearly 60 per cent.

Maher Terminals said it's expanding its Fairview Container Terminal at the Prince Rupert Port to handle 1.3 million containers per year, from its current capacity of 850,000 units.

Don Krusel, president of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, said construction would begin immediately and is expected to be finished by the middle of 2017. He said the expansion will involve a capital investment of more than $200-million.

Maher Terminals said the expansion will add a second deep-water ship berth, four cranes, a bigger container yard and more railroad track.

Fraser River Pile and Dredge and BEL Contracting will build the new elements.

The port authority said container traffic through the facility has increased at a faster pace than at any other port in North America, with 2014 volume 15 per cent higher than 2013.

The expansion shows that Maher Terminals and the shipping industry expect the growth in traffic to continue, Krusel said.

The Fairview terminal, which opened in 2007, is a main export point for forest products, particularly from northern B.C., destined for Shanghai, Hong Kong and the South Korean city of Busan.

Products coming in through the terminal from Asia include apparel, consumer electronics, auto parts and building materials, which are carried mainly by rail throughout North America.

Prince Rupert's port is the second largest on Canada's West Coast and the closest North American port to Asia.

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