You've seen the Godzilla of Khazakstan and sure, it's an impressive piece of machinery. But it's a Tonka Truck compared to its big brother, the Bagger 288. This 13,500-ton leviathan chews the tops of mountains clean off.
The Bagger 288 is what's known as a bucket-wheel excavator, built by the Krupp company for the German mining firm, Rheinbraun. It originally operated at the Tagebau Hambach (Hambach strip mine) in Western Germany, where it was tasked with removing layers of top soil from coal seams prior to mining.
Don't get me wrong, it mines coal too. The 315-foot high, 721-foot long Bagger 288 uses its 8-story tall impeller to scoop up to 240,000 tons of coal or overbuden per day. If you take your standard soccer field and dig down 98 feet within its boundaries, that's about what the Bagger 288 pulls out of the ground on the daily. That's enough to fill 2400 coal wagons and completely exhaust the coal supply at Tagebau Hambach in just 23 years. Once there was no more work for the Bagger in Hambach, it took its show on the road.
Over the course of three weeks in 2001, the Bagger 288 and a crew of more than 70 trekked to the Tagebau Garzweiler (Garzweiler strip mine) 14 miles away, using its three rows of four caterpillar tracks, each 12 ft wide, to distribute the 13,500 tons. Its footprint is actually large enough for it to safely travel up to 33 feet/minute. And even at a cost of 15 million German Marks, driving the Bagger to Garzweiler was still less expensive than disassembling and moving it in parts.
At the new site in Garzweiler, the Bagger 288 helps to produce roughly 100 million tons of coal per year— a full 15% of the general German electricity supply. The coal mined there feeds five power plants which produce over 10,000 megawatts of electric power yearly. Which is good, since the Bagger 288 requires an external 16.56KW power supply every time it turns on.