What is a Dragline Excavator and What is it Used For?

November 28, 2022

What is a Dragline Excavator?

The mining industry in North America needs reliable heavy machinery to endure the tougher ground and colder climates. Mining sites and oil sands rely on dragline excavators to do the job. 

A dragline excavator effectively dismantles, scoops and moves materials in open-pit coal and other operations around a mining site. Usually, a dragline excavator is used to remove overburden (the rock or soil layer above the ore processed) from a mining site in a cost-effective manner. 

Dragline excavators vary from towering machines with massive buckets to smaller machines that dig ditches. 

However, dragline excavators aren’t limited to just being used in the mining industry. They’ve been used for road excavation and even for underwater excavation. 

What Dragline Excavators Are Used For

As mentioned, they are predominantly used in mining. Due to their size and bucket-carrying capacity, they are often the most productive heavy machines for moving material by the pound. Compared to an excavator, they can carry heavy dirt over a wider distance, similar to a crane. 

There are typically two types of dragline excavators:

  • Standard Lift Crane: These units are built off-site and then transported to the worksite or mine. They can be dismantled and reassembled. These are popular for temporary projects, like civil engineering for roads, bridges and infrastructure projects. 
  • Built Onsite: These are long-term and purpose-built for a longer period. These are often used in heavy material extraction in mining, coal, and oil sands. These are fixed dragline excavators that are used for several years at a time. 

How Dragline Excavators Work

Like cranes, a dragline excavator uses a counterweight to lift heavy materials. They have a truss-like structure composed of three main parts: the boom, stick, and bucket. 

The boom is a massive truss arm which extends outward from the machinery house. It can be used to raise and lower the bucket by the operator, which is connected to a small stick. The stick can pull back which makes the bucket scoop up material. 

Surprisingly, dragline excavators are one of the few machines that aren’t powered via diesel. They directly rely on electricity and can use about 6 megawatts during operations. These are typically used in mining, whereas hydraulic dragline excavators are suitable for lighter loads.

The Benefits of Financing a Dragline Excavator

It’s no surprise that even used dragline excavators go from tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of dollars. There’s also the element of buyer beware: unless you have a known supplier or some history with the machine, there’s a large capital risk involved. 

If you’re considering obtaining a dragline excavator for your mining or other operation, you may want to think of financing instead.

The reasoning to finance a dragline excavator is similar to other pieces of heavy equipment. 

  • Retain More Current Cash: There’ll be less financial stress on your current capital when you finance a dragline excavator. This is clarified in a transparent downpayment hammered out in a lease term. 
  • New Tech to Improve Operational Efficiency: Modern pieces of heavy machinery have advanced safety features that weren’t available decades ago. From cabin operator cameras for blind spots to less downtime, your worksite can operate at a faster pace while being safe. 
  • Flexible Financing & Leasing Options: Working with a heavy equipment finance broker like Blue Capital, you can choose the terms that are right for your company. Whether you want to own a new dragline excavator at the end of the lease, or you simply want to use it for a shorter term, there’s a proper package for you at competitive industry rates. 

Contact us if you’re interested in getting pre-approved for your new dragline excavator.