Oil sands giant Syncrude looks back on its 1990s transition from bucket wheel to rope shovel mining

Leading oil sands miner Syncrude recently reviewed its transition from bucket wheel to truck and shovel mining in the late 1990s.“Big trucks and shovels – when you think about mining in Syncrude today, these are usually what comes to mind. However, looking back 20 years ago, Syncrude’s miners were bigger. Syncrude’s bucket wheel reclaimers were about 30 m above the ground, At 120 meters long (longer than a football field), it was the first generation of oil sands equipment and was hailed as a giant in the mining industry. On March 11, 1999, the No. 2 Bucket Wheel Reclaimer was retired, marking the beginning of the mining industry at Syncrude changed.”
Draglines excavate the oil sands and deposit them in piles along the mine surface before production mining at Syncrude enters truck and forklift operations.Bucket-wheel reclaimers then dig out the oil sands from these stacks and place them on a conveyor system that leads to the dump bags and to the extraction plant.”Bucket wheel reclaimer 2 was used on site at Mildred Lake from 1978 to 1999 and was the first of four bucket wheel reclaimers at Syncrude. It was designed exclusively by Krupp and O&K in Germany and constructed for operation on our site. In addition, the No 2 mined more than 1 metric ton of oil sands in one week and over 460 metric tons over its lifetime.”
While Syncrude’s mining operations have seen significant progress in the use of draglines and bucket wheels, the transition to trucks and shovels has allowed for better mobility and reduced costs associated with these larger pieces of equipment.“The bucket wheel has a lot of mechanical parts to handle, as does the accompanying conveyor system that transports the dry oil sands to the extraction. This creates an additional challenge for equipment maintenance because when the bucket wheel or associated conveyor is lowered, We will lose 25% of our production,” said Scott Upshall, Mildred Lake mining manager.“Syncrude’s more selective capabilities in mining also benefit from changes in mining equipment. Trucks and shovels operate on smaller plots, which helps better manage mixing during extraction. As our previous mining equipment the sheer scale of the world, which was not possible 20 years ago.”

Post time: Jul-19-2022