Cadiz’s CCU Coal saying goodbye to Ohio’s last electric shovel

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CCU coal electric shovel
CCU's electric shovel, posted up and idle as it waits to begin dismantling

The CCU Coal & Construction company is in the process of saying goodbye to one of its biggest contributors — biggest in a literal sense. The company’s giant P&H 2800 electric shovel — tipping the scales at two million pounds — is getting ready to go under the knife for dismantling, for scrap, no less. While the actual shovel is still intact, a crew out of Cleveland hired for the project has started preliminary work, like taking down metal doors and removing motor parts. The shovel, unfortunately, isn’t going to be a part of the company’s projects moving forward.

The massive piece of machinery has been idle since October 2019, and its time is over. Part of that has been driven by a coal industry decline after a late-2000s peak. Some of it’s been more recent COVID ripples, but increased efforts for environment conservation have been a significant driving force. While the shovel is signing off in 2021, it wasn’t that long ago that the coal industry was peaking; those glory days aren’t in the so distant past. Now the Herculean shovel is a vestige of the coal industry’s heyday, and CCU Coal is branching out to other subindustries.

Greg Honish of CCU Coal & Construction spelled out a bit of the shovel’s history and the company’s future, and it could be difficult to imagine that just 10 years ago, coal was in somewhat of a renaissance. It wasn’t until about 2013 that environmental red tape started affecting the operations. The coal company is shifting gears, but the mission is remaining relatively the same. “We’re essentially a dirt-moving company,” Honish admitted. And the coal industry isn’t the only realm where dirt needs moved. Honish added that there have already been measures to start doing work in construction, reclamation, and aggregate mining. Honish mentioned that road-building, too, could become a topic of discussion later on down the road, but it wasn’t a serious or feasible option for the company currently.

The transition from coal isn’t cut-and-run, though, so there will still be some being done, but the flexibility is almost necessary since coal’s decline. Honish also added that one of the company’s upcoming projects was kind of ironic. The company landed the decommissioning of the AEP plant. AEP used to be CCU’s primary client; now they’re tearing it down. As it stands, the company is changing its operations based on the world around it. But the electric shovel will be dismantled bit by bit by an outsourced company so that its steel can be appropriated for other projects. While its destruction might be somewhat bittersweet, the electric shovel contributed to part of the coal industry’s finer moments.

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