With current and former Luminant employees looking on, Winfield South Mine's largest and most distinctive piece of equipment took its final bow Sunday, June 17.
"It went fast. I heard one pop. Then I looked up and the second one went and it was gone,” said Randy Green, equipment operator.
Green ran the cross-pit spreader on and off for 20 years, from its beginning in 1991 to its last day 20 years later. "It was a real blast to run a piece of equipment that size,” he said. "I just hated to see it go.”
Designed to move dirt out of the immediate mining area as it helped uncover unusually deep-set lignite, the equipment had reached the end of its useful lifespan. "It was actually uniquely designed for the conditions here in the G area of Winfield South, so it'd be very difficult to try and find the same conditions elsewhere in the world,” explained Del McCabe, Monticello Mines director.
With relocation off the table, implosion became the clear choice. "Anything that you would cut with a torch that would put somebody in danger, we used explosives to make it safe and keep them away from there,” shared Steve Rainwater with Duane Houkom, Inc., explosives specialists.
In all, it took less than 24 pounds of charges and roughly 20 seconds to bring down the massive machine. "I'm very impressed that everything went to plan, just like clockwork,” McCabe said.
With the masts and belts now safely on the ground, crews will take the next several weeks to prepare the material for recycling. In all, roughly 2,900 tons will be reused – beginning a new chapter for the last machine of its kind in the country.
"Everything in the machine – the steel, the copper, the brass, the aluminum – will be recycled for use in other products,” McCabe explained.
The memorable machine will live on in other uses, but won't be forgotten at Luminant. "It's part of history, our history,” Green said.