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Mechanical Dredging vs. Hydraulic Dredging

Are you trying to determine if mechanical dredging or hydraulic dredging is best suited to meet your mining requirements? Some advocates may argue that mechanical dredging is an easier and less complicated process for crews. However, hydraulic dredging is cost efficient, offers increased flexibility, and is best suited for challenging environments where excavators are limited. In addition, hydraulic dredging is best for environments when acquiring finely grained materials is required.

There is more than one approach to dredging. Ultimately, your decision will probably boil down to how much it will cost and how long it will take to complete your dredging project. However, there are other factors that you may want to consider. You will also want to evaluate the body of water that you are working in and how selecting the right type of dredging equipment can help you meet your dredging goals.

Mechanical Dredging

Mechanical dredging is best suited for environments that contain enough space for an excavator to operate, allowing the power-driven machine to extract, dispose, and scoop materials rapidly.

Mechanical dredging projects are typically located near a shoreline. They traditionally require several pieces of support equipment including the primary excavator that mechanically removes the sand and water placing the sand on the shoreline, loaders to move the sand on the shore, and trucks to deposit the sand at a nearby processing plant.

Hydraulic Dredging

A single hydraulic dredge can be used to accomplish the same mission in half of the time using fewer resources. Some advantages of hydraulic dredging include:

  • Reduced labor and capital cost
  • Less energy and emissions
  • Reduced materials and maintenance costs
  • Safe and efficient

During the hydraulic dredging process, the fines are washed from sand while being transported directly to a nearby processing plant. When pumping distance or vertical elevation increases, a dredge booster pump can serve as a viable option to help maximize the opportunity for consistent production rates.

One of the added benefits of hydraulic dredging includes the direct transfer of materials to the processing plant.  This saves both time and money, eliminating the need for additional manpower and double handling of the material.


Choosing The Right Dredging Equipment For The Job

Hydraulic dredges are best suited for larger bodies of water where excavators have difficulty reaching materials and occasionally environmental conditions are frigid. Mining with a hydraulic dredge is the most efficient way to extract materials regularly, whether it be sand, gravel, or hard salt deposits.

Ellicott’s hydraulic dredges are ideal for mining projects. That is because the dredges are designed to reduce costs per ton and enhance productivity.  Ellicott’s larger dredges are available for those projects that require digging depths up to 60’ (18 m).

Our dredges have been used all over the world for a variety of mining projects from St. Petersburg, Florida (USA) to the province of Marinduque in the Philippines. For dredge recommendations, complete our project form today or contact us by email at

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