Guide To Surface Mining: The Different Types & Tools Used

Surface mining is an industrial process that yields minerals, sand, aluminum, and a wide range of raw materials that are essential to the creation of construction materials and other resources.

Obtaining these materials in an efficient manner requires the use of specialized machinery such as hydraulic shovels and underground mining trucks, but how exactly do these machines work to mine materials?

The answer depends on what kind of surface mining you’re doing — open-pit, quarrying, ad strip mining are a few of the options. The answer also depends on the machine you’re using. Read on for more information on the types of tools most commonly used in surface mining operations.

Surface Miner Drums

Surface Miner Drums

The surface miner drum is one of the most important tools used in harvesting minerals and raw materials. This tool is also sometimes called a hoist, and it is the instrument used for cutting the surface and allowing for the extraction of materials.

They are favored for their unparalleled versatility — surface miner drums can typically be used in either soft rock or hard rock applications, for example, and they can be customized for optimal performance based on the material at hand.

Cutting Teeth

Cutting teeth are arguably just as important as the surface miner drum — in fact, one cannot work without the other. Cutting teeth are affixed to the mining drum in order to break into the surface being mined.

The teeth are one of the most delicate parts of a mining machine, and if the speed and feed rate is not correctly calculated, the teeth can easily break off or become chipped. This is one reason why it’s so important to use an accurate engineering calculator to find the right speed and feed rates for your machinery.


Yet another important tool in the surface mining process is the block system. Many block systems rely on a welded-in construction that requires up to an hour and a half to change, but some manufacturers offer blocks that rely on modular construction instead — allowing for changes that can be made in as little as 15 minutes.

This can drastically increase the overall uptime of your mining machine and minimize the necessity for constant maintenance. This also serves to make your work environment safer and less dependent upon tool changes that cost time, money, and effort — draining the productivity of your work site.

Retention Clips and Accessories

Retention Clips and Accessories

In addition to the aforementioned mining tools, there are many accessories that can be helpful in streamlining the process and optimizing retrieval rates. One such accessory, retention clips, is imperative to keeping a bit snugly fitted within a block. This is imperative to reducing some of the most common safety risks on a job site.

Solid end mills are another great option for improving safety standards and minimizing some of the risks associated with imprecise drilling methods. End mills offer unparalleled durability and they are typically ideal for applications that involve heavy metals such as aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium. (mining)

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