Growth Trends for Related Jobs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mining industry consists of five major segments: coal mining, gas and oil extracting, metal ore mining, non-metal mineral mining and supporting activities such as resource transportation. Each segment requires the use of specific equipment, but there are several types of mining equipment that are used throughout the industry. This equipment includes excavators, draglines, drills, roof bolters, continuous miners, longwall miners, rock dusters, shuttle cars and scoops.
Miners traditionally used shovels and steam shovels to break and remove earth, but today’s miners rely on excavators. An excavator is a mobile vehicle that moves on tracks or with standard wheels. It features a rotating platform, off of which comes a hinged arm with a bucket or scoop attached to its end for digging.
Draglines are enormous earth moving machines that miners use to drag away dirt and expose underlying coal or mineral deposits. Draglines are some of the largest machines on the planet, and can remove several hundred tons of material in a single pass, according to Kentucky Coal Education.
Miners who extract natural gas and oil commonly rely on drills to reach underground deposits before piping the resources to the surface. Coal and mineral miners also use drills to create extensive series of holes, which they then fill with explosive charges to blast away chunks of earth.
Roof bolters are large, hydraulically-powered machines used to force bolts into roofs. Miners use roof bolters to support tunnel roofs and prevent underground collapses.
Continuous miners are machines with massive, rotating arrays of teeth, often made from tungsten carbide. Subterranean coal miners use the machines to scrape coal from coal beds. In particularly dangerous situations, workers control robotic continuous miners remotely.
In contrast to continuous miners, longwall miners remove large, rectangular sections of coal instead of scraping coal from a bed bit-by-bit. According to Kentucky Coal Education, continuous miners consist of a series of large cutting shearers and a self-raising hydraulic system that supports the mineshaft ceiling as sections of coal are removed.
Rock dusters are pressurized pieces of equipment that coal miners use to spray inert mineral dust over highly flammable coal dust. The inert dust helps prevent accidental fires and explosions.
Shuttle Cars and Scoops
Coalminers use electric-powered shuttle cars to transport coal from the coal bed to safer points in the mine. From there, miners can use standard scoops, or haulage vehicles, to drive their loads completely out of the mine. Miners of all types use haulage vehicles for various tasks.
Erik Devaney is a writing professional specializing in health and science topics. His work has been featured on various websites. Devaney attended McGill University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in humanistic studies.