New Shovel at Minntac Represents Investment in Future

Updated: June 18, 2019 07:53 PM

It took 3 months to build. And now, the P&H shovel is ready for action. Tuesday was the time to celebrate the commissioning of this giant piece of equipment.

"This is very important. It's a huge investment by U.S. Steel, and really is the future of mining," shared Tod Plackner, Area Manager of Mine Production.

General Manager of Minnesota Ore Operations, Larry Sutherland, added, "This is the first AC drive shovel on the Range. It's very electrically efficient, and reliable, versus the traditional DC drive shovel. The team is excited to put it into service today."

The mine pits span 10 miles at Minntac. And they are busy places. Jim Chacich, Process Coordinator Mine Production, said, "We have 54 240-ton haul trucks, moving material that's been stripped and crude ore that will be produced into pellets for our customers. We have 13 shovels in the fleet. All of our equipment has GPS, so we know what material is where and who is hauling it."

One of the people who has been doing it for years is Jay Sanders, also known as 'Colonel.' He was operating a newly rebuilt shovel, which is his favorite one, on Tuesday. "A lot of people think it would be boring, like looking at a rock wall. I don't look at it that way," he said.

Before the shovels and trucks can do their work, the rock needs to be blasted. And Renee Passal got the chance to detonate the one on Tuesday. "I was really nervous," she said. 

But all the hard work was done ahead of time. Mine engineers like Erin Lind work on planning the blasts. "Every time we blast, it breaks differently. Surveyors map it for us. We adjust the holes, make sure there is the right spacing," she explained. They blast about four times a week.

They're doing it as efficiently as they can, while mindful of the communities around them. After all, they and their families live there.

U.S. Steel also owns Keetac, and has made investments there as well.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


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