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Moving mountains: excavators armed with attachments perform a controlled demolition job.

Tucked away in a small mountain town, Progress Metals Reclamation of Ashland, Ky., is helping return some Rocky Mountain land to its natural beauty.

The demolition contractor, a division of Progress Rail Services, Albertville, Ala., which is itself a division of equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., recently began the demolition of an abandoned coal mill in Paonia, Colo., a small community with a population of just more than 1,500 people about 70 miles southeast of Grand Junction, Colo., in the central western part of the state.

Project Manager Allen Bailes of Progress Metals and his team had a tall order on hand when the mill's owner Bowie Resources Ltd., also headquartered in Ashland, Ky., contracted the company to demolish the old mill's remaining structures, including three 120-foot-tall concrete silos and several steel conveyor systems.

Specific challenges of this particular jobsite meant Bailes and his crew had to think creatively and employ an arsenal of tools and carriers to bring the structures down and prepare the material for recycling.


The site's location meant the crew at Progress Metals had to rethink its approach to demolition. The site is about 50 feet away from a state highway on one side and next to a large electrical substation on the other side. The proximity to these structures made methods like implosion impossible, says Bailes, so the silos and conveyors had to be taken down manually, piece by piece with a fleet of material handling equipment affixed with specialized demolition attachments, such as multi-processors, grapples, hammers and shears.

The availability of equipment also pushed Progress Metals to a more controlled approach to demolition.

"They couldn't find a wrecking ball and crane to rent, so they were forced to use alternative means of demolishing the structures," says Mark Ramun, sales and marketing manager for Jewell Attachments, based in Portland, Ore.

From Kuhn Equipment of Charleston, S.C., Progress rented a Hitachi Zaxis 500 excavator with a Jewell UHD (Ultra High Reach Demolition) Front and a Genesis 450 DemoPro processor, which was primarily responsible for tackling the concrete silos, each of which measured about 80 feet in diameter and stood nearly 120 feet high, Bailes says.

The 100-foot reach and precision of the DemoPro were particularly useful on this particular job, which required a more controlled approach to demolition, according to Bailes, in light of the structures' proximity to the highway and the substation.

"The Jewell UHD is a very surgical type machine," adds Ramun.

In addition to the Hitachi Zaxis 500, Progress Metals also employed a John Deere Model 270 excavator fitted with a bucket and a grapple made by Allied-Gator Inc., Youngstown, Ohio, for material handling on site. A Caterpillar 320C with a Genesis XP400R mobile shear helped with demolition tasks and the preparation of scrap steel for recycling, and a Volvo loader took on additional material handling tasks. The contractor also employed a Hitachi 450 excavator with a hydraulic hammer to break up the concrete on the demolition site.

Not only was this equipment fleet responsible for the actual demolition of the structures, but the crew also used it to prepare the demolition material for recycling.

BACK TO NATURE. The contractor, with help from its parent company and the coal company, have committed to recycling as much of the material from the Paonia site as possible.

All of the concrete generated from the project was ground to 3-inch minus to be reused by the coal company at its active No. 2 mining site about five miles away, says Bailes.

The steel and rebar from the site is also earmarked for recycling. All the scrap steel was prepared on site and was shipped by rail directly to a nearby steel mill, according to Bailes.

He estimates that approximately 100 tons of rebar and 10,000 tons of concrete will be recycled from the Paonia mill project.

While this arrangement has financial advantages, Bailes says the project also has a large environmental motivation to it, from the controlled method of demolition to the recycling of demolition materials to the plans for the land after the remnants of the abandoned mill have been cleared away.

Following the demolition, which began in late September and was scheduled to be finished in nearly November, the land will be reseeded with grass and turned into an orchard, Bailes says, returning the site to the natural majesty of its surroundings.

"This really is a beautiful area," he says. "[The structures] were an eyesore to the neighborhood, and the neighbors are pleased to see these gone."

Ramun echoes Bailes's sentiment, He says, "They're taking something that was industrial and taking it back to its natural beauty."


Demand for heavy equipment is coming not just from the United States, but from overseas markets as well.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has reported a 10 percent increase in sales of U.S.-made heavy equipment to export markets in the first half of 2006 compared to 2005.

By percentage, buyers in Central and South America have been placing more orders in 2006, while by volume the largest markets include Canada, Australia Mexico. Brazil, Chile, Belgium and South Africa.

Trade group AEM ( uses U.S. Commerce Department figures and other information to compile its quarterly export trends reports.

The author is associate editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted at
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Author:Gubeno, Jackie
Publication:Recycling Today
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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