New excavator commissioned at Trapper Mine |

New excavator commissioned at Trapper Mine

Eleanor C. Hasenbeck
Joe Stillwell, excavator operator at Trapper Mine, digs soil, rock and snow with the new machine on Thursday afternoon.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck/staff

CRAIG — Trapper Mine is digging more dirt per day with a new excavator.

The new machine, a Liebherr R 9400, removes the soil and rock above the coal seam. President and General Manager Michael Morriss said it operates more quickly than the excavator it’s replacing. Mine management expects the new equipment to make the process of clearing away soil and rock 35 to 50 percent more efficient.

“With production going up this year and in coming years, we needed to move more yards, and it was going to be very difficult (using the old excavator),” Morriss said.

The new machine is expected to require less maintenance and work at a lower cost per hour. It can be operated without the additional equipment that was required to use the retired excavator.

The excavator can reach higher than a four-story building from ground level, and the bucket that will be installed can hold about 100,000 pounds of material, the equivalent of the average weight of 25 American cars, according to a statement from Liebherr.

Liebherr has also stationed an employee at Trapper to support the machine.

The excavator was put into operation last week, and it was formally commissioned in a ceremony Thursday afternoon.

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