Types of Surface Mining Equipment
Mining is extremely dangerous. If you don't know what you're doing or how to use your equipment, you can easily get hurt. The best way to stay safe and prepare for a career in mining is to educate yourself on the different types of equipment you will be working with daily.
Underground vs. Surface Mining EquipmentDifferent mining sites require their own unique sets of equipment. While the majority of this post will focus on surface mining equipment, it's essential to explain the differences between the two main mining types. Above ground, or surface mining, includes strip mining, open-pit mining, and mountaintop removal mining. Essentially, surface mining is the term used to describe any mining where the rock overlying the mineral deposit is removed. In underground mining, the overlying rock is left intact. Minerals are removed via shafts and tunnels. Underground mining can be further categorized between hard-rock mining and soft-rock mining. As the name suggests, hard-rock mining is used to extract hard minerals like metals or diamonds. Soft-rock mining, on the other hand, is used to extract softer minerals like salt, coal, or oil sands.
What Machines are Used in Surface Mining?The following equipment will be found at many surface mining sites.
Hydraulic Mining ShovelsIn mining, shovels are also frequently referred to as excavators and are used to pick up large amounts of dirt or other materials and transport them from one spot to another. These excavators are particularly useful when opening the mining site to expose the minerals that will be extracted. As we mentioned above, surface mining involves removing the rock overlying the mineral deposit, and hydraulic mining shovels and excavators help do just that. Depending on the ore they're extracting, miners use excavators to transport the minerals from one point to another for processing.
Wheel LoadersA wheel loader is a type of hydraulic mining shovel that differentiates itself with its large size and hauling capacity. Wheel loaders can also travel at fairly high-speeds, so they're an excellent solution for mining operations with ore pockets that are spread out across the site. If mining sites aren't using a wheel loader as their primary excavator, they can be used:
- As a backup while the hydraulic mining shovels are in service
- As a support machine for cleaning up the site
- For simplifying the operations of the other machines