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10 Types of Heavy Equipment Used in Mining

14th July, 2022

heavy equipments

Miners have always used many tools, but we’re not talking about the old days of a pickaxe or gold pan. Today, mining is a huge business and, as such, requires heavy-duty equipment. Small-scale gold mining equipment in Australia is still popular, but this article is going to be focused on mining vehicles and mining machinery.

From service trucks to excavation equipment, the typical Australian mining operation requires all types of mining machines. This isn’t just because the scale of mining operations has grown, but because mining companies always need ways to increase productivity and achieve results faster.

The ability to mine faster yet maintain strict safety standards is the key to running a successful operation, and that’s why mining equipment has advanced not only in size but also in functionality. And instead of straight out buying them, more and more are starting to reap the benefits of getting your equipment financed.

What kinds of heavy equipment are used in mining?

There is an extraordinary amount of equipment used in mining, ranging from hand tools to large-scale machinery. We’ll focus on the heavy-duty machinery here rather than all the mining tools you might find around a site.

Mining operations need plenty of machinery and vehicles to get the job done, and some aren’t even for the actual mining process. Before even starting, you’ll need to use a range of mining equipment like excavators, dozers, graders and wheel loaders for building roads and access points to the mine. Then you’ve got the service trucks that are used to ensure all of the machinery runs smoothly. Articulated dump trucks are used to remove debris. Water trucks are used to service machines and even limit the amount of dust on a site.

The list goes on and on, so let’s have a quick look at 10 major types of the heavy equipment you’ll find at Australian mining sites.

1. Wheel Loaders

Sometimes known as front-end loaders, wheel loaders are essential to most mining operations and large construction projects. In short, they are extremely powerful machines used to lift and transport debris, soil, gravel, rocks and anything else that needs to be cleared from a mine site. As far as earthmoving goes, the wheel loader is one of the most commonly used pieces of mining plant equipment.

A wheel loader features a front-bucket tool that can move up and down to lift heavy loads. There are different types of buckets, although they perform mostly the same function of lifting and transporting materials from one place to the next. Rather than driving on tracks like some types of mine machines, a wheel loader has 4 large wheels and an operator’s cabin above, giving the driver a clear view of the front bucket.

2. Track Dozers

A track dozer is similar to a wheel loader in many ways but also quite different. Firstly, they run on tracks rather than wheels, which gives them superior manoeuvrability in uneven or rocky terrain. Secondly, their primary function is a little different. Rather than scooping loose materials and carrying them elsewhere, dozers are used to push large amounts of materials. Although the front attachment is not as deep as a wheel loader and can’t carry as much volume, you can use them to scoop materials.

The tracks distribute the dozer’s weight more evenly, giving it superior pushing power. This is why they are so frequently used around mining sites. Track dozers can be used to rip and push coal, build roads and move heavy materials. They can also clear a path by removing obstacles, thanks to the front blades.

3. Tyre Handlers

When you ask what heavy equipment is used in mining, you’ll notice that many of the answers feature wheels—extremely large ones. The tyres used for these wheels are, of course, hefty and couldn’t be moved by hand. That’s where tyre handlers come in.

Tyre handlers are primarily used to remove, change, fix and align the tyres of heavy earthmoving equipment. As you can imagine, changing the tyres of wheel loaders and other heavy machinery isn’t like changing that of a regular car. These tyres weigh hundreds of kilograms, and tyre handlers can easily manage the load.

The general design of a tyre handler looks similar to a wheel loader, but the front attachment is considerably different, as are the controls. The front frame can be modified for mine-specific operations, and some feature the ability to also use bucket attachments.

4. Motor Graders

Mining operations typically utilise motor graders for levelling surfaces. These surfaces are usually the roads used to access mine sites. However, they are also helpful in flattening all types of surfaces around a mine. You’d be right if you think this sounds a lot like the dozers we mentioned earlier. Except where dozers are good at shifting large amounts of materials, graders are used for much more precision.

The blades are essentially used to drag along the ground, moving smaller amounts of dirt and debris more accurately. Many projects would use a dozer to do a lot of the heavy clearing work and then bring in a grader to level the surface.

5. Articulated dump trucks

When you need to move a large amount of material in one go, an articulated dump truck is what you need. It’s a very common piece of mine machinery used to transport anything from sand and gravel to crushed rock.

An articulated dump truck, also known as a dump hauler, is made up of the front section, or cab and a rear section that tips up and down to allow for easy unloading of materials. Most articulated dump trucks have the capacity to carry up to 30 tons of materials.

As they are built more like a traditional truck than some other mining equipment like loaders, these dump trucks have excellent pivoting capabilities and can turn in a tight radius. This gives the operator more flexibility, especially in smaller areas.

6. Articulated water trucks

Looking at an articulated water truck, you may think it’s similar to the articulated dump truck. In its design and construction, that’s quite true. The rear section is connected by a flexible joint, which is why it’s called ‘articulated’. However, the rear section is quite different from a dump truck.

The rear of an articulated water truck is enclosed because, as the name suggests, it is used for carrying water. With a capacity of 30,000L, these trucks can deliver vast amounts of water to mine sites, and they are designed to travel long distances.

From these trucks, you can spray water, which is one of the common mining techniques to limit dust in remote locations.

7. Mining diesel tankers

Across all different types of mining, there is one pervasive feature. They all require heavy machinery that runs on diesel fuel. Most mining operations are based in remote locations, so even if there was a service station nearby, it’s not terribly practical to transport enormous machinery for a fill-up.

That’s where mining diesel tanker trucks come in. They, too, look a bit similar to the articulated dump trucks and water trucks because a flexible joint also connects the rear. However, rather than water, they carry the diesel fuel that so much of the other mining equipment relies on.

You limit disruptions and downtime by bringing fuel to the mine site and refilling all machines directly. Thanks to diesel tanker trucks, you can keep your generators and other heavy-duty machinery running without interruption, increasing overall site productivity.

8. Excavators

Many types of excavators are used in both the mining and construction industries, from mini excavators for small jobs to much larger machines. They are so commonly used because they have a lot of different functions, including digging trenches, moving large objects, demolishing structures and other earthmoving applications.

Usually running on tracks, they can access areas and manoeuvre freely where other wheeled machinery can’t. Different types of excavators used in mining include backhoes, bucket wheel excavators, power shovels and dragline excavators. Since the art of mining is heavily focused on digging, these machines are a necessity. They can power through hundreds of cubic metres of material every hour.

Whether you need small excavators that can move around easily in tight spaces or long-reach versions for difficult areas, excavators operate with precision, flexibility and speed.

9. Service trucks

Mining service trucks are perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of machinery you can have. Because mine sites are usually in remote locations and heavy machinery is so large, you can’t just drive your equipment back to a service centre for refuelling. However, service trucks can bring fuel to the machines.

They are built to carry heavy loads and are set up a little differently than mining diesel tankers. It’s because a service truck doesn’t just carry fuel; it also carries water, oil and coolant. The tanks can be configured specifically to suit your needs. The trucks are equipped with all the hoses and pumps you need to keep machinery well serviced and operating smoothly.

You can find all types of service trucks to suit your needs, from a 2000L capacity up to 28,000L capacity. The best types of mining service trucks feature mine spec electrics, customisable tank configurations and a zero spillage system for easy operation.

10. Water trucks

Like service trucks, water trucks are designed to take water to a mining site. However, they are usually built to a smaller scale than the articulated water trucks we discussed before. Standard water trucks typically have a capacity between 10,000 and 20,000 litres, which is less than the 30,000L capacity of an articulated truck.

However, water trucks are no less valuable to a mining operation and, in some ways, are better equipped to service your needs. They come with more spray valves, hoses and water cannons, making them a little more multi-functional.

The most common uses for water trucks are limiting dust at mine sites and soil compaction. Using too much water on soil can create boggy conditions that are hard to work in, which is why many people prefer a water truck with special spray functions to apply only the water they need.

Rent or buy mining equipment in Australia

In terms of large-scale mining, there are many different operations around the country. Some of the major ones include:

  • Iron ore
  • Coal
  • Lithium
  • Aluminium/bauxite
  • Gold
  • Copper
  • Nickel

Mining provides a significant service to the economy, with Australia being in the top 2 for many of these minerals exports. To say that mining is big business would be an understatement.

If you want to buy or rent heavy mining equipment, Plantman is your leading supplier. We can deliver machinery and vehicles almost anywhere in the country, tailoring and customising machines to suit your needs. You get the absolute best in safety features, and our vehicles are expertly maintained. We can even arrange a regular maintenance plan for your vehicles for long-term leases.

Contact us today to discuss any of your needs regarding mining machinery for rent or purchase. We are always happy to speak with you and committed to helping you meet your goals within the desired timeframe.

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