Cliffs Natural Resources is carrying bigger loads these days.
The company introduced the new 4100XPC-AC Electric Mining Shovel Thursday morning, down in the depths of the Tilden Mine.
Looking on were community business leaders and executives from both Cliffs and Joy Global, the company that produces the shovel. Cliffs spent $30 million on the new piece of machinery, and it's expected to pay off with an increase in productivity.
"We have a fleet now of larger 320-ton trucks, and this is the first of the larger shovels that are intended to efficiently fill those as we go forward," said Jim Kochevar, General Manager of Cliffs' Michigan Operations.
Cliffs says it will use the shovel in both the Empire and Tilden mine operations.
The shovel is the largest electric shovel Cliffs operates in North America. The bucket is 60 cubic yards and is capable of carrying 120 tons of material. From top to bottom, the machine stands 70 feet high.
It's an impressive view from the control center, which features high-tech equipment and multiple cameras.
No plumes of smoke will be seen coming from the machine. Instead, an industrial sized cord hooks up to the back of it, providing the electricity that powers the machine.
"It's all about power in and productivity out, and this really uses the least amount of energy to excavate a ton of rock," said Jeff Schmaling, Vice President of Joy Global.
CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership, Amy Clickner, says she's seen the benefits of investments like this one extending beyond the mine.
"It shows that we have a strong community when we have large corporations and small corporations putting money back into their businesses," said Clickner. "It just continues down the chain to benefit everybody."
Cliffs says it will continue to study larger equipment to improve efficiency and cut operating costs.