It takes a great deal of work to extract the iron ore that’s mined in the upper peninsula.
But Cliffs Natural Resources has just obtained a very large new item to make that job easier.
The open pit supplying the Tilden Mine has a huge new P&H 4100 electric mining shovel.
It weighs nearly 3.4 million pounds.
Cliffs had been seeking a shovel of this size for about the last three years.
Cliffs Michigan Operations general manager Jim Kochevar says with the company recently buying a fleet of twelve 320-ton trucks, it really needed a larger shovel that could load them more efficiently.
The new shovel is the largest one that Cliffs has anywhere in North America.
Three scoops of the huge bucket will fill a 320–ton truck, compared to four scoops of the largest shovel that Cliffs had in Marquette County until now.
Joy Global Surface Mining North American vice president Jeff Schmaling says the 4100 isn’t only Cliffs North America’s largest shovel.
It’s the largest model of shovel made anywhere in the industry.
He says the bucket can scoop up 120 tons of rock at a time.
The shovel is 70 feet tall, 47 feet wide and more than 100 feet long.
Kochevar says they know it’ll cut down on their operating costs, since they won’t need to make as many trips to fill each huge truck, but he doesn’t know how much the company will save.
He says the shovel represents a $30 million dollar investment.
The 4100 shovel has been in operation for a week now.
Cliffs says the bright yellow sides that it displayed today will be about as clean as the shovel will ever look, so they plan to get their $30 million worth out of it over the years.