The Use of Wire Rope in the Mining Industry

Wire rope has become one of the most useful pieces of lifting equipment available to us, and finds itself used in at least 13 different industries from around the world, having uses in everything from houses to airplanes. One such industry where wire rope is often used is for is in the mining industry, and we have discussed this more below.

 Why is wire rope used in the mining industry?

 It was actually the mining industry that gave birth to the modern form of wire rope that we use today. While there has been use of some form of rope stretching back to as early as 12,000BC, it wasn’t until 1824 that the wire rope that we know and love was invented.

 W.A.J Albert, the manager of a silver mine in the Harz Mountains, Germany, was looking for a more reliable and safe piece of equipment to use as an alternative to the wrought iron chains and hemp rope currently used in the mining industry. This is because these chains and hemp rope were (and in many cases still are) typically unreliable, and if one link or strand in the chain or hemp rope breaks, then the whole chain or rope is rendered useless.

mining industry

Wire rope is used extensively for mining. Here we see the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah.

 As the mining industry involves lifting and lowering heavy loads at great depths with a lot of tension and abrasion, whatever piece of lifting gear is used is going to be under incredible pressure and stress.

 Albert deduced that a combination of hemp rope and chains was the best solution, and so gave birth to the idea of wire rope; essentially a rope/chain hybrid. It wasn’t a completely brand new idea; there had been instances of wire being wrapped around each other previously. However, Albert was the first to come up with the idea of wrapping several wires together to form a strand, and then wrapping this together around an internal core to form a solid and robust wire rope.

 Albert and the mining industry needed a more efficient piece of lifting equipment, hence the reason the material in question was born. Albert probably had little idea just how important a piece of equipment would become to so many different industries!

 There have been changes and developments to wire rope since Albert’s initial invention, but the basic principles still remain the same; principles which are still applied heavily to mining tasks today.

 How is it used for mining?

 Mining tasks are found across multiple industries, and below we have looked at some of the ways in which wire rope helps with this process.

 Using rope for lifting and lowering tasks

 Mining obviously involves a great deal of lifting and lowering, and ropes are perfect for this. Not only are they strong and safe for the actual movement of the loads themselves, but they are also extremely abrasion resistant. This is important because the wire rope will be run through items such as winches, and the constant wear and tear would break less sturdy pieces of equipment. Such loads that need to be moved can be as heavy as large pieces of machinery like excavators, and so a piece of equipment needs to be used that can be relied upon. Hence the reason why this lifting medium is used!

 Using rope to mine oil and gas

 As with the above, wire rope is used for the lifting and lowering tasks when it comes to the mining of oil and gas. The equipment used needs to be lowered to incredible depths and pressures, and rope has a great deal of resistance to this. Thanks to this, the material is the go-to choice for drilling lines, helping to keep oil rigs as productive as possible.

mining industry

The material is commonly utilised with pieces of machinery for mining oil and gas

 What else is the material useful for?

 It’s not just the mining industry that rope finds a great deal of use for; it is used in at least 12 other industries too. If you wanted to know more about how it might be useful to you, simply get in touch with one of the team.


Image credit: Timjarrett and skeeze