Guide to Choosing the Best Heavy Equipment for Mining

Guide to Choosing the Best Heavy Equipment for Mining
Guide to Choosing the Best Heavy Equipment for Mining
Author: Small Business Expert | July 24, 2023 | Topic: Used Equipment

Guide to Choosing the Best Heavy Equipment for Mining

Mining is essential for many of the consumer products we use every day. It also helps the world gain access to energy resources that keep various vital operations running. Mining equipment lets us collect the valuable rocks, ore and minerals we need daily.

There are many types of heavy mining equipment, such as excavators, trucks, shovels and drills. These machines are essential to performing mining tasks and keeping workers safe in potentially hazardous conditions. This guide to mining equipment will help you learn more about the different types of heavy machinery used on mining projects and how to choose the appropriate tools for your next project.

Mining Methods

Mining typically falls into two different categories — surface and underground. The material you're extracting and the environment will dictate what equipment you'll use. Still, each mining method follows the same general steps.

  1. Extraction: This step involves any methods used to extract materials, including drilling, digging or blasting.
  2. Material handling: The second step is handling the mined materials, including loading materials to a processing site or a waste area.
  3. Material processing: Once materials reach the processing site, workers can grind, crush, separate, refine and smelt them to achieve the finished product.


Surface Mining

Surface mining is the method that extracts materials that sit close to the Earth's surface. This approach is typical for non-fuel minerals, and there are three primary ways to mine the surface.

  • Quarrying: This method involves cutting stone for ornamental purposes or extracting byproducts such as gravel or sand. Quarrying uses similar techniques as open-pit mining, but some distinct differences exist.
  • Strip mining: This method removes multiple thin surface layers of rocks and soil to reach the minerals. This technique can prepare for open-pit mining.
  • Open-pit mining: This method involves drilling into the surface and setting explosives, which create a large pit for miners to access the minerals and rocks under the surface.


Underground Mining

Underground mining is likely what most people picture when they think about mining. Underground mining extracts minerals, such as specific ore or metals, that are far below the surface. Since underground mining involves more confined spaces than surface mining, the material extraction process is different. This type of mining usually requires some automation and limiting the use of emission vehicles to protect miners. The most common types of underground mining include the following.

Underground Mining


  • Blast mining: This process uses explosives to loosen the rocks, helping create open spaces. Blast mining is ideal for removing hard rocks from underground mines.
  • Room-and-pillar mining: Miners will create pillars to support the ceiling while they mine underground. In some cases, this method may use a continuous mining system rather than personnel to extract materials, which can help improve worker safety.
  • Retreat mining: This method is similar to room-and-pillar mining but removes the pillars after completing the project, allowing miners to maximize their material gains.

8 Best Types of Equipment for Mining

Different tools are suitable for handling specific mining activities. The machinery you use will vary depending on whether you're mining the surface or underground and which materials you're extracting, such as coal, crude oil or gold. If you're new to mining, you may not know what is available to help you do your work. Below, we've compiled an equipment list for mining businesses to help you learn about the best equipment for mining projects.


1. Large Mining Trucks

Large mining trucks are essential at mining sites. These trucks help move materials and debris around job sites.

Mining trucks are different from conventional trucks, often equipped with larger tires to support heavy material loads or maneuver around uneven terrain. These trucks can also carry higher payload capacities, allowing you to move heavy materials or ore around the construction site. Large mining trucks can also perform in harsh conditions, such as extreme heat, cold or heavy dust.


2. Mining Shovels

Hydraulic mining shovels, also known as excavators, can help dig through tough materials commonly found at a mining site. Most hydraulic mining shovels have similar components and design. For example, many of these machines have tracks with a cab on top. The cab's pivoting capabilities allow the equipment operator to rotate in a circle without making significant movements, allowing them to dig more efficiently.

There are various applications for mining shovels, including moving materials, lifting materials into a loader, removing rock or dirt from the surface to open up the mines and transporting some mining materials.


3. Bulldozers

Bulldozers are essential for moving materials and mined ore. You can choose between a wheeled or tracked bulldozer, depending on the surface at your work site. You can also equip bulldozers with different attachments that allow them to perform tasks like these:

  • Raking the materials around the mining site
  • Pushing dirt away from working areas to keep the mining site maintained
  • Constructing mining sites by exposing the ground underneath surface materials, such as vegetation or brush
  • Ripping plants or other materials from the ground


4. Rotary and Rock Drills

Rotary and rock drills help create holes in rock or soil. These drills allow workers to place blasting charges, which can create open mining areas. Rotary drill rigs use a drill bit to cut rocks under pressure. Compressed air from the equipment sends the drilled rock to the top to help keep the hole free from debris.

Alternatively, rock drills use pressure to create holes in the ground, using the same compressed-air method to clean out the holes. Both drills have numerous applications at mining sites, including creating mining holes, splitting rocks, creating wells and expanding mines.


5. Motor Graders

Often, mines lack access to roads, and many mining sites have debris, vegetation, rocky terrain and other materials that can damage the equipment when driving across. Even mines located off highways will need stable roads to haul and move materials. Motor graders help create roads at mining locations, transporting equipment and materials along the smooth ground.

Motor graders are vital in mining operations, ensuring you can maintain roads' integrity. Some common uses of motor graders include creating grades to drain water from roads, constructing roads for hauling materials and mined ore and pushing materials away from roads to ensure they stay clear.


6. Wheel Loaders

Wheel loaders can pick up and move materials across a mining site, where workers can load them into trucks. Large wheel loaders are ideal for mining projects, since these machines have a larger bucket capacity and load-handling capabilities. Matching the wheel loader's handling capabilities to your material's density and volume is essential so your equipment can hold up without wearing prematurely.

Wheel loaders are primarily for surface mining projects and can help with digging, loading materials for transport and supporting the tasks of other loading equipment on your job site.

Wheel Loaders


7. Draglines

Draglines are excavators that are common at construction sites. Wires and ropes support these large excavators at the end of booms. When the operator lowers the bucket, it scrapes across the ground and collects various materials, including mined rocks or ore. Then, it can drop the bucket's contents at a specific location. Many surface mining projects use draglines for multiple functions, including:

  • Moving materials to prepare a surface mine
  • Cutting into high-wall surfaces
  • Removing materials from mining work sites
  • Removing exposed materials from strip mines


8. Wheel Tractor Scrapers

These machines have similar designs to motor graders. The primary difference is an attached bin that collects materials from the surface rather than pushing them aside. The bin's edge scrapes the ground, allowing the materials to feed directly into the bin, which then travels to a deposit location. There are a few applications for wheel tractor scrapers on mining sites.

  • Reclaiming land
  • Building roads for the construction sites
  • Performing various mining operations
  • Making initial cuts for the start of a mine

New vs. Used Mining Equipment

When shopping for mining equipment, you'll likely come across new and used models. Both options have specific advantages. For example, new machinery comes equipped with the latest technology, and you don't have to wonder about its history. However, there are many benefits to buying used mining equipment.

  • More options: Buying new equipment may limit you to the latest models that came out this year or the year before, and you may not find what you want. Buying used equipment allows you to choose from the most popular models from previous years, giving you a better chance to get the exact features on your wish list.
  • Cost reduction: Cost is paramount when investing in your business. New equipment will have the highest price tag, especially models with the latest technology. If you're looking for a way to save on costs while still getting what you need, used equipment is an excellent option. The prices between new and used equipment can differ drastically, and used equipment generally costs less upfront than new equipment.
  • Lower rate of depreciation: New equipment depreciates significantly faster than used equipment. When you buy used, you won't have to worry about initial depreciation, which can sustain the equipment's long-term value.
  • Lower insurance rates: Insurance rates on new machinery are often more expensive, which can increase overall spending. You can reduce your costs further by purchasing used equipment, allowing you to get lower rates from your insurance company.

While there are several potential advantages of buying new equipment, buying used can help you save money without sacrificing work quality.

When looking at different used models, follow some tips for choosing mining equipment. For example, you'll want to consider your needs, depending on whether you're mining the surface or underground and what the terrain is like at the work site. You'll also want to account for other factors, such as your budget, brand preference and optimal size.

Why Buy Mining Equipment From Cat® Used?

If you're buying used equipment for your mining projects, Cat® Used has everything you need. Cat Used equipment allows you to expand your options without cutting into your bottom line. With Cat Used, you can rest assured that you're getting quality used equipment. Here are some reasons to consider buying mining equipment from your local Cat dealer:

Why Buy Mining Equipment From Cat Used?


  • Quality products: Caterpillar equipment is built to last, so you can rely on our used equipment to help you with all your mining needs. Most used inventory comes from the Cat dealer rental fleet or lease returns. Every dealer handles this process differently, but in most cases, Cat Used equipment is inspected, cleaned and filled with fluids. You can also find various options suited to your mining needs.
  • Affordable prices: We offer low prices for our used equipment, helping you save on equipment costs without sacrificing performance, durability or reliability. You can trust our equipment will help you complete your mining project without breaking your budget.
  • Cat dealer support: Cat dealers provide excellent after-sale support and parts availability to help your equipment perform.

We consolidate used equipment listings from our dealers so you can view them from a single location - making it easy to search for the exact mining machine you need. Our Cat dealers establish trust and expertise and help you find a quality used machine that's inspected and ready to use right away.

Browse Used Mining Equipment

We have a wide selection of mining equipment to help you complete your projects. You can browse our online catalog to find a dealer near you to talk with a representative so you can see the equipment in person. Let us help you buy machinery that fits your specifications, ensuring you maximize every job.

Sign up to receive email notifications when the tools you're looking for become available on our website or at a dealer near you, or start shopping today.

Browse Used Mining Equipment

Browse Used Equipment

Browse Used Mining Equipment
Browse Used Mining Equipment