NATIONAL MINE - Cliffs Natural Resources Michigan Operations unveiled a new electric mining shovel Thursday afternoon, which is the largest piece of equipment in use at Cliffs North America operations.
"This is a big deal for us," said Jeff Johnson, operations manager for the Empire and Tilden mines in Marquette County. "It lets us move a lot of material as safely and efficiently as possible."
The new shovel - a 4100XPC-AC E model that was made by P&H Mining Equipment, has a bucket capacity of 60-cubic yards and can lift 120 tons. At a height of 70 feet and a weight of 3.38 million pounds, the new shovel is able to load Cliffs' 320-ton mine trucks in three bucket loads and the 240-ton trucks in two.
The Cliffs Natural Resources employee standing near the bucket of the electric mining shovel Thursday at the Tilden Mine in National Mine shows the scale of the new piece of equipment.
With the current shovels in use at the Empire and Tilden mines, it takes four bucket loads and three bucket loads, respectively, to fill the two sizes of trucks.
"This is a very big day for us," said Jim Kochevar, general manager of Cliffs Michigan Operations. "We're very proud of the company for making this investment in the community."
The new shovel cost $30 million and is powered by an electric motor.
The improved efficiency of the shovel allows Cliffs' employees to make more truck runs throughout the day, with a computer simulator allowing operators to be trained on the equipment before using it.
"We do a lot of training and our best operators will run this machine," Johnson said.
The larger size of the shovel also makes a good match with the larger trucks Cliffs began purchasing last year, he said.
"The guys are excited to have some of the safest and most efficient equipment around," Johnson said. "It means we can do our jobs more safely and efficiently.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.