Cloud Peak Energy is preparing to move a dragline 69 km (43 miles) from one Wyoming mine to another in pursuit of deeper coal.
Draglines in Powder River Basin coal mines are among the world's biggest machines, handling up to 76 m3 (100 cu yd) of earth at a time.
Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy has disassembled the dragline at its Cordero Rojo Mine about 40 km (25 miles) south of Gillette. The company plans to move the dragline to its Antelope mine about 97 km (60 miles) south of Gillette, The Casper Star Tribune reported.
The dragline has been at Cordero Rojo since 1993.
The dragline move will help Cloud Peak dig deeper and maintain Antelope’s historic production levels of a little more than 27 Mt/a (30 million stpy), company spokesman Rick Curtsinger said.
“It allows us to maintain production as the strip ratio goes up, as it does across the basin,” Curtsinger said.
The ratio of overburden to coal also has been increasing at Cordero Rojo. There, however, Cloud Peak is cutting production by about 9 Mt/a (10 million stpy) starting this year.
The last time a company disassembled a dragline at a Powder River Basin Mine and reassembled it at another was in the mid-1990s, Cloud Peak senior project manager Clint Cooper said.
Cloud Peak officials hope to have the disassembled dragline moved to the reassembly site by mid-August. The dragline should be operating at Antelope by the middle to end of next year, they said.