16 Biggest in the World Open-Pit Coal Mine and its Giant Machinery

Biggest in the World Open-Pit Coal Mine and its Giant Machinery

Posted on January 6, 2015 by tim

Do you see a bus on this picture? Look closer, it’s near that giant machine which they call “buck wheel excavator”. Wikipedia says its main purpose is: “to act as a continuous digging machine in large-scale open pit mining operations”. What can be more larger scale than the biggest world open pit coal mine in Kazakhstan built in Soviet times as the biggest Soviet open pit coal mine? Russian photographer Alexander Popov has traveled there and took this awesome pics and story so we now can take a look to!  So let’s see those in detail:

This open-pit mine was built from 1965 to 1979. It had been planned to produce 50 million tons of coal per year (wow!) and in 1985 it has reached this number for the first time bringing 56.8 million tons of coal in twelve months! Because it’s so big and so productive they have even put it into the Guiness record book same year.

Alexander says that their main purpose of the visit was not the mine itself but the giant bucket wheel excavating machines like the one on the pic above. He says that the German machine builders have made super giant excavators for this place on special order in 1972 and 1973.

“This monster can produce 5,000 tons of coal each hour!”

Alexander says that when he first saw this giant tracks he remembered a huge tracked machine from the Star Wars episode IV.

And here is this giant in its “natural habitat” – inside of the coal pit mine.

“This is a real self-moving ship!”, says Alexander, “It has got all sort of rooms: machine rooms, rest lounges and the myriad of different ladders and cables.”

Twenty seven people serve one machine here.

Some parts of this giant is radioactive and the sign is posted! “Nobody could explain me what exactly in these giants is radioactive!”, remembers the photographer.

Two of the giants were modernized in 2009-2010 and you see they got computerized vision and control.

This is how it rolls, or how it mines for actual coal. Here is also a short video Alexander has made:

It’s strucking silent inside of it while its mining!


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16 Responses to “Biggest in the World Open-Pit Coal Mine and its Giant Machinery”

  1. petrohof says:

    that sounds like a lot of coal, but it is not. at that rate of mining that is only 24 years until gone.

  2. daras28-82 says:

    Check Krupp Bagger 288, looks much bigger.

  3. john says:

    Interesting posting and thanks for the great pictures

  4. Erik says:

    Great photos ! Thank you

  5. Nice photos, but I question the biggest I think you will find the German Bagger 288 is the biggest.
    240,000 tons a day. Or was he saying the open pit mine was the biggest, in which case it isn’t there is one in Minnesota USA which is the biggest in the world.

    Still nice picks though.

    How long is the longest wire? How often is it replaced? How long does it take to replace? Have they got a hospital on board/ how much diesel does it burn an hour? there is so much the editor could have found out

  6. ecologist says:

    Using coal is bad for the enviroment. You should only use power coming from Sun, water or wind.

    • Mike says:

      Sure, when the technology gets good enough for real application, ie meets or exceeds the capability fossil fuels give us. Sorry, I’m not progressive enough to lower my standard of living that much.

  7. Andreas S says:

    I took this picture in Germany a while back. The German one is much bigger. :) But nice photos.


  8. petrohof says:

    According to BGR there are 1052 billion tonnes of coal reserves left in the world, equivalent to 134.5 years of global coal output in 2013. Coal reserves reported by WEC are much lower – 892 billion tonnes, equivalent to 113 years of coal output.

    China mines almost 30 times the coal of Kazakhstan each year.

  9. Number says:

    Ironic,using an excavator that works on high voltage electricity to dig coal,or/and the digger has an nuclear reactor to work over there.

  10. Number says:

    contra weights could be the radio active part(s)

  11. Osip says:

    Radioactive device is bulk mass flow measuring instrument. It is measuring how much coal is passing by it on the belt.

  12. dsad says:

    maybe it is somehow releated with a fact that coal power stations relesases more radioactive stuff than accidents at NPPs

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