Formed in March 2004, Louisa, Ky.-based Diamond Energy has been working a 114-acre (46 ha) site in eastern Kentucky. Owner and president Glen Pope said mining there was a foregone conclusion.
“I’ve been involved in mining in one way or another for many years, so you could say it’s in my blood,” he said. “I’d only owned a mine once previously, but rising coal prices and the availability of this site steered me back into it. I knew it would be a challenge, but I also knew it would be a labor of love.”
Pope knew his choice of equipment was critical. He had used Hitachi 750s and 850s on a previous job and was confident of their performance and reliability. He also had a solid relationship with Rudd Equipment, the area Hitachi dealer.
One Machine, Many Roles
Pope knew he needed machines that could do more than move approximately 8 million cu. yds. (6 million cu m) of material. He also needed machines that were versatile.
“We’re not a large operation, so we don’t have the luxury of acquiring machines that do only one thing. I needed an excavator that was agile. One that could reach and clean high-wall areas. One that had enough breakout force to pull toe rock — the material that can’t be shot. One that was fast and powerful enough to give us the production rates we need.”
Of course, the machine also had to be durable, as downtime was not an option.
Based on Pope’s input, the team at Rudd put together a package that included the largest machine in the new Dash-3 Series from Hitachi — the Zaxis 850LC-3 — as well as a pair of used Euclid R60C 60-ton (54 t) haul trucks.
“It was a tall order to fill,” said Pope. “But we took delivery of the new 850 in September 2006, and it’s met our needs on every count.”
To reach their production goal of 25,000 tons (22,679 t) a month, Pope said they are loading each Euclid R60C in 2 to 2.25 minutes. The 850 is equipped with an 8-yd. (7.3 m) bucket and is filling each truck in five to six passes.
“This is where the Hitachi 850LC-3 really excels,” he said. “There’s not much the machine can’t do, so we have a smooth, uninterrupted flow of material; trucks are in a regular rotation hauling material away.
“It also does a nice job when we come up against something unusual like digging a bench pond or pulling away material from a brush line.”
Estimates have the two coal seams at Pope’s Peach Orchard Coal Zone site — one 60 in. (152.4 cm) wide, the other 20 to 22 in. (50.8 to 55.9 cm) wide — containing more than a half million tons of coal. And Pope has reserves already set to add to that total.
“We should be in here for at least the next two to two-and-a-half years,” he said. “The start-up phase of this operation has really gone smoothly. And a good deal of that is because our equipment has given us the reliability we demanded. Rudd Equipment promised me a machine that would not let us down. That was an understatement. We’re still early on in our operation, but I can’t say enough about what the Hitachi 850LC-3 has done for us so far.”
Diamond Energy is serviced by Rudd Equipment, Prestonsburg, Ky.
(This story has been reprinted with permission by Hitachi from its publication called “Americas’ Mines & Quarries,” first issue 2007)