Australian Opencast Mines use UK-built Hoists to Maximise Uptime on Giant Draglines

Australian Opencast Mines use UK-built Hoists to Maximise Uptime on Giant Draglines

North Queensland has some of the largest accessible coal reserves in the World. Street Crane Company’s Australian partner, North Queensland Cranes (NQC) uses UK built hoists and components extensively and has found a niche in supplying cranes and hoists to the draglines used by the opencast coal industry. These draglines are among the largest land based machines on the planet and work relentlessly to remove rock and earth overburden to expose coal seams.

A typical dragline will have a boom of 50 to 90 metres, will hoist a bucket of up to 90 tonnes and will typically move 55 cubic metres of rock in a single operation. Individual machines can weigh up to 13,000 tonnes. They are too heavy to be supported on caterpillar tracks, so they use a system of movable pontoons to ‘walk’. No fuel driven engine can meet their power needs and so they are driven by electric motors via cables directly from Australia’s national power grid.

With such a huge capital investment, and the unremitting worldwide demand for coal, these machines operate round the clock. Costly downtime must be avoided, despite the punishing work load. Moving machines off site for servicing is completely impractical, so timely on-site maintenance is essential. Ben Dennis, the senior dragline improvement engineer with BMA Goonyella Riverside commented, “The cranes on BMA draglines play a major role in maintenance and breakdown services. They perform a whole variety of tasks and without this critical equipment, 24/7 operation of the draglines would be impossible.”

To meet servicing requirements NQC have installed cranes inside the machines. Gantry rails were installed in the draglines as they were built. These rails project beyond the dragline perimeter to allow components to be lifted into the dragline from a truck outside. NQC fabricated the crane beams and undertook all the associated mechanical and electrical work.

Two draglines have been fitted with cranes incorporating Street Crane’s ZX hoists of 30 and 25 tonnes safe working loads respectively. Each crane also has an auxiliary hoist of 10 tonnes to give greater flexibility and for the rotation of key components during final positioning.

The ZX hoist is particularly suited to this environment. In addition to its robust design, the twin scrolling open-barrel layout ensures a vertical lift and placement so that components are not damaged by lateral pulling and can be located precisely. The open design of the hoist means all components are easily accessible for servicing and also promotes air circulation to prevent overheating in this severe climate.

The cranes give access to the whole of the working area. This contains the motors that lift and lower the beam and that power bucket hauling and tilt. There are also motors that rotate the machine and power the pontoons to enable the machine to walk.

Preventative maintenance is the order of the day. Using the cranes, engineers can pre-position components while the crane is still working so that swap-out is rapidly achieved during the servicing pause and draglines can return to work quickly.

Street Crane Company is the UK’s largest manufacturer of electric overhead travelling cranes (EOTCs) and a major exporter of hoists, components and controls to crane makers in overseas markets.

Cranes and hoists are available up to 200 tonnes safe working load. Single and double girder gantry, semi Goliath and Goliath cranes are produced. Special cranes and automated crane controls can be engineered to cope with unusual site conditions or load handling and lifting requirements.

Gus Zona, Tel. +44 (0)1298 812456 Fax. +44 (0)1298 814 945
E-Mail: Web:
Street Crane Company, Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak, SK23 0PH, UK

Share this post