By Christopher Williams

Coal mining at Grand Lake, N.B., began in 1639 and ended in 2010 when N.B. Coal’s last customer, Grand Lake Thermal Generating Station, was decommissioned. However, N.B. Coal has sold its “Maid” Marion 8200 excavator to PotashCorp. The 4,000-tonne monster which exhumed the surface mine for decades will soon rise again in Aurora, North Carolina.

The size of a mini-mall, the Maid Marion has a huge bucket that can dig a swimming pool in a single scoop. Walking draglines have feet that allow them to move backwards, and they can swivel 360 degrees, with a long dump range. They are also designed to be disassembled and moved.

This “medium-sized” dragline was dismantled by Quebec-based Delsan-AIM Environmental Services Inc. with construction contractor CCC Group, Inc. of Texas overseeing the operation. From the once bustling mine community of Minto, Five Star Specialized Carriers of Quispamsis, N.B., trucked 38 of the heaviest components to Port of Saint John for ocean transit, and hauled another 128 smaller components directly to Aurora where PotashCorp, the world’s largest potash fertilizer company, is refurbishing the giant for a phosphate mine.

“We anticipate the ‘new’ dragline to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2013,” said Thomas Pasztor of PotashCorp. “Our operation in Aurora already has one Marion 8200 dragline with excellent reliability. The refurbished unit will mine phosphate ore and replaces an older dragline that has spare parts and high maintenance issues,” Pasztor explained.

The heavy equipment was laid down at Port of Saint John’s Lower Cove Terminal, which is operated by Empire Stevedoring. “Lower Cove Terminal remains a key facility for movement of project cargoes like the Maid Marion and we are really pleased to work with partners such as Empire Stevedoring on these types of cargo movements,” said Jim Quinn, President and CEO of Saint John Port Authority.

The components included operator cabs, hoists, walking arms, 100-tonne drums and six roof sessions. All units were handled by a 250-tonne hydraulic crane and “jumped” to the edge of the pier where a 450-tonne all-terrain crane lowered each piece aboard a 20,000-square-foot barge towed by the Captain Dan tug from Florida.

To rig each heavy lift, A.W. Leil Cranes and Equipment of Dartmouth, N.S worked closely with Empire’s longshoremen led by Doug Beckingham. “We gained considerable experience handling huge suction anchors for the North East Gateway project in 2007 and 2009,” noted Beckingham, who estimated handling the dragline parts totaled at least 640 man-hours for Quebec-based Empire which has been in Saint John for the past 35 years.

The barge loading was also supervised by CCC Group’s Charles Longieliere of Georgia, who was in his fourth month on the project. “They did a good job rigging, it’s nice and level,” Longieliere observed, as an 80-tonne girder was carefully lowered onto the barge. “This is our specialty,” he added. “CCC Group, Inc. has completed over 75 draglines operating at over 50 mines worldwide.”

Founded in Marion, Ohio in 1884, The Marion Power Shovel Company designed, manufactured and sold steam shovels and dragline excavators for construction and mining industries. Bucyrus International acquired the Marion Power Shovel Company in 1997, and Bucyrus was acquired in 2011 by Caterpillar.