On the move: Mining giant to be moved by coal company with rare trailering method

CENTER -- More than 700 tires rolling in unison will help carry a 9.5 million-pound piece of equipment to a central North Dakota coal mine's new digging site.

Coal company moves large piece of equipment
The 9.5 million-ton Liberty dragline at BNI coal will be trailered to a new location on the mine site. Draglines are normally "walked" to a new location, but the trailering method, only done three or four times before in the United States will help avoid operational and environmental issues. PHOTO BY JESSICA HOLDMAN, Bismarck Tribune

CENTER - More than 700 tires rolling in unison will help carry a 9.5 million-pound piece of equipment to a central North Dakota coal mine’s new digging site.
Using a method only done three or four times nationwide, BNI Coal is moving its Liberty dragline and the smaller Big Sandy736 dragline as part of its $1 million Center Mine expansion project, said general manager Wade Boeshans. The move is expected to take place this week.
The expensive project is only the beginning, as the company will invest another $1 million in the mine by 2020, according to Al Hodnik, CEO of BNI’s parent company Allete.
Normally, when a mine needs to move its dragline to dig down to a coal strip in a different location it “walks” the machine at 0.1 miles per hour on hydraulically powered shoes with the machine slowly propelling itself to a new site. For operational and environmental reasons, BNI opted to use a trailer to transport two of its three draglines the 8 miles, to where they will soon be digging.
Engineering manager Mike Heger said BNI contracted with a Dutch company called Mammoet, which specializes in moving large equipment.
On Feb. 4, Mammoet began bringing in 60 semi loads of equipment and an eight-person crew to the site northwest of Bismarck. It is using 14 ironwood jacks to raise the Liberty six feet off the ground and onto a remote controlled, self-driving 36-axle trailer.
It will take Mammoet eight hours to move the machine once it is loaded onto the trailer. Though the project has been delayed by equipment breakdowns, it should be complete by the end of the month, according to Heger.
The draglines will be operating on 9,000 acres of newly permitted mine land from which BNI will mine coal to fill contracts for power generation through 2037.
Complicating the move was the crossing of electric lines and a haul road that wasn’t wide enough for the Liberty to walk on, Boeshans said.
The haul roads are 80 feet wide at BNI. With shoes, the Liberty is 96 feet wide. The road would have to have been expanded as far as the fence line on either side and could have led to issues with runoff, Heger said.
Removing the shoes and hauling the machine on a trailer reduced that to 70 feet required for width.
The Liberty will still have to cross the Bison power transmission line that supports 500 megawatts of wind energy and can bring in as much as $90,000 worth of power an hour on a windy day, Heger said. The line will have to be down for eight hours but will be returned to service a lot faster than if the machine had been walked.

Related Topics: ALLETE
What To Read Next
Benson and Turner Foods will process cattle and hogs at Waubun, Minnesota, on the White Earth Reservation with the help of a USDA grant.
The Kinderkidz daycare and preschool is tentatively set to open their third location, the second in Dickinson, this Thursday.
A recent $30,000 per acre land sale in Sioux County, Iowa, sends signals into the land market in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and even as far away as Indiana.
Working from his granary-turned-workshop near Amidon, N.D., Max Robison creates leatherwork ranging from traditional (horse tack, wallets, etc.) to fashion-forward (Converse high tops and sandals).