There are lots of machines and equipment used in the mining industries. Whether you are mining for coal, gold or just plain old building materials such as sand and stone, the equipment that is used makes everyone’s jobs much easier, safer and efficient. The equipment used for mining are big and powerful.
Quarries are sites where the ground is dug up to find raw materials and these are then processed into useable materials used for many different applications. Some of the most common materials that are mined in the south west of England are Granite, Sand and Slate.
To be able to get to the materials below the grounds surface, firstly they need to strip the over ground. This is done either by drilling and using explosives or by using bulldozers to push the surface away from the area.
A front end loader is then used to pick up the unwanted material and load it into another large piece of equipment to transport it away from the site. This piece of equipment is called an articulated dumper. These are used to transport any kind of material it is intended destination. Whether that be the spoil site or the mined material the needs to be processed ready for use.
Once the over ground is removed and the raw material can be seen, it is then dug up, again using the front end loaders and transported to the crusher. A crusher is a big machine with steel plates and jaws that larger stone is put into and crushed into smaller stones. Crushers can be adjusted to change the size of stone it produces. Different sized stone is used for different applications.
Once the stone is crushed into the size needed, it is put onto a hopper feeder. A hopper feeder is a machine that has a long belt on to move material around. On top of the hopper feeder is a metal grate called grisly bars. Grisly bars are there to stop any bigger pieces of stone that may have made its way through the crusher getting onto the hopper feeder belt and potentially damaging it or getting stuck and shutting the machine down.
The hopper feeder will feed the crushed stone and gravel into a machine called a screener. The purpose of a screener is to take out any wrong sized pieces of stone or debris making their way into the wrong stock piles. There will be multiple stockpiles of stone and gravel at quarry processing plants and having the wrong sized material put into the wrong pile would cause a big headache for whoever is responsible.
Some quarries will have their own bagging plants. A bagging plant is where these materials are loaded into dumpy/jumbo bags or smaller 25kg bags, if they have the need for them, ready to sell on. Some people prefer to buy their building materials in dumpy bags and some people find it easier to have loose loads of stone.
Once all materials are processed and bagged up, they are sent to their relevant stockpiles ready for the customer to purchase.
The same mining process is used whether you are buying 20mm decorative gravel or a 40mm to dust aggregate. The machinery used in quarrying comes at a very high price. The average cost for just one articulated dumper is £600,000 and most quarries will have multiple of each piece of equipment! That is a lot of cost before you have even started to mine!