Saturday, June 29, 2013

Here we come, Gillette

Yesterday was a long day. The caravan to Gillette was scheduled to leave at 8 am.  I woke up about 5 am and decided I should get up or I would over sleep.  

I hitched the truck on but it took a couple of passes.  The rigs were parked with the 5ers king pin forward on the lot to the exit road.  There was a big ditch in front of it.  I really had to maneuver the truck to get it hitched.  Everyone was ready to roll about 7:55 am.  

The 100 mile trip was uneventful.  There was a lot of construction on I 90.  I told Bill I was tired of seeing so many antelope and I wanted to see a cow.

The Cam-Plex is easy to get to and there were no parking lines.  We are in C 112 Box Elder.

Sherry made reservations for 10 of us to take the coal mine tour through the Visitor's Center.  The tour was free and sponsored by the Visitor's Center and was full.  We had a delightful tour/bus driver who was a school teacher but also spent her summer working in the mine.  

The Eagle Butte Mine is one of 13 active coal mines in the Powder River Basin.  The mines began shipping coal in the 70's.  The coal seam recoverable reserves total more than 40 billion tons.  Total amount of coal within the state is more than 1.4 trillion tons.  Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr employee about 600 employees.  Production and maintenance technicians are paid approximately $24 to $31 per hour.  Our guide told us she didn't need any special training prior to working there.  She said she took a short driving course outside the plant, then had some one ride with her, then they cut her loose to drive.  

They had an observation area and this old shovel bucket that is half the size they now use held 23 cubic yards.

Here is one of the tires from the trucks.  It is 12 feet tall; 40" side, 9,500 lbs and costs $30,000  to replace one.  Tire life is 8,000 to 9,000 hours.  And we complain about the cost of RV tires!

Left to right in the photo:
Ed and Sandy Spearse, Nick and Jeanne Schmidt, Polly Fogler, Sherry and Dave Sweetman, Bill and Jan Mains, and Vern Fogler.

One interesting fact was the annual diesel fuel usage for the two mines is approximately 15 million gallons.
Our guide said the haul trucks  cost approximately $4.3 million and can carry 1,200 gallons of diesel.  They are 42 feet long and 29 feet wide.  They can pass each other on the roads.  The haul trucks weigh 185 tons empty and approximately 425 tons when loaded.  

Our guide was so thrilled that we could see the trucks dump into the hoppers.  The coal crushers below the hooper crush the coal to a 2 inch diameter   The coal travels on a collection belt and to a storage belt to the top of the silos. The trains travel through the silos and are loaded at a pace of .6 mph.  They can load a train in approximately 2 hours. Each train car holds about 120 tons of coal.  There are about 115 to 140 cars per train. 

In all the years Bill and I lived in West Virginia we never toured a coal mine or really understood the process.  It's a shame we had to travel to Wyoming to learn about one.  

The day ended with a social hour with our chapter members.  John and Gerri Beckman and Dick and Judy George joined us.

Turtle Safely......

1 comment:

  1. Jim had problems getting hitched also because of the ditch. Then he had to back up to dump because the macerator didn't reach. I don't understand why they insist on parking that way. Great tour. The numbers are amazing and a whole lot of money.


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