Man has dedicated an inordinate amount of time, money, and thought to developing ways to dominate the world around him. Nature does, at times, fight back with the odd tsunami or earthquake, but even these prove relatively ineffective at discouraging man from building machines so huge that they are able to literally move mountains. Naturally, the very biggest of these are to be found in mines across the world. Mining has come a long way since men in dungarees carried buckets of dirt from deep in the ground by hand. The more dirt a mine is able to process, the higher its profit margins and it’s this fact that has facilitated the design of the biggest metal monstrosities ever built. Here we take a look at the two biggest earthmovers in the world:
First up, is the manifestation of any little boy’s dream.
The Bucyrus RH400 hydraulic shovel stands among the largest diggers on planet earth. This three-story high behemoth operates primarily in the Canadian oil sands of Alberta. In one monstrous sweep, the RH400’s shovel can scoop up to 94 tons of soil or rock. Two 16-cylinder engines work together to generate an earth-shattering 4400 hp, which is used to run 14 hydraulic pumps, moving in excess of 3400 gallons of fluid.
One would think the sheer size of the RH400 would be enough for it to be the proverbial school bully of the excavation world, but it’s not just massive, it’s smart too.
The shovel employs a clamshell design, which allows the bottom end of the shovel to open in order to empty its payload more quickly. Innovations like this enable the RH400 to decimate entire areas, and the machine even set a production record, managing to excavate 9000 tons of earth in one hour.
That’s a little more than the Tonka truck you used to play within the sandpit and consequently, it costs quite a bit more too. For just $11 million, you too can own a machine that’s big enough to dig your very own Olympic-sized swimming pool in under an hour.
It might be a good idea to check with neighbors first, however, if they have anything to say, you could just threaten to excavate their entire property in a single scoop.
Any list of the biggest earthmovers in the world that didn’t include the Takraf Bagger 293 would be like a history of boxing that excluded Muhammad Ali. Holding the Guinness World Record for the biggest land vehicle ever, this almost inconceivably massive machine stands a towering 95 meters tall and stretches more than 220 meters in length.
The Bagger 293 is currently stationed in the Hambach strip mine in Western Germany’s Rhineland, digging tirelessly for lignite, a low-grade coal used in steam–electric power plants. The bagger is a bucket-wheel excavator, which essentially means it works by rotating several giant buckets on a massive wheel mechanism to maximize output.
The Bagger’s 22-meter diameter wheel slowly rotates its buckets, which hold an astounding 18 1452 gallons each. The buckets are then emptied onto a conveyor belt, which is built into its boom arm. The Bagger’s output is nothing short of incredible. Every day, it moves 8.48 million cubic feet of earth.
That’s enough to fill 96 full-size Olympic swimming pools and more than enough to maintain its position at the top of the earth’s moving echelon. Only one Bagger 293 exists, so, unfortunately, all hope of owning one of your own should be abandoned.