Dig in! RWE launches online auction for bucket-wheel excavator

DUESSELDORF, Aug 18 (Reuters) - RWE has launched an online auction for one of its 22 bucket-wheel excavators, as Germany’s largest power producer prepares for a coal-free future, it said.

With a weight of 3,500 tonnes - or about 10 Boeing 747 planes - and height of 38 metres, “Bagger 275” is the smallest member of RWE’s excavator fleet, needed to mine lignite for its coal-fired power plants.

Built by Krupp in 1959, the excavator -- able to move between 2 and 8 metres per minute -- has a capacity of 60,000 cubic metres per day. The planned sale is run by auction house Wilhelm Dechow.

RWE has not put a price on the asset but any offer must be higher than what the group would get for scrapping it. Buyers must also take over the dismantling and transport.

Costing around $100 million, the largest bucket-wheel excavators rise as much as 100 metres, weigh as much as 14,000 tonnes and can move 240,000 cubic metres per day.

RWE, Europe’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has pledged to phase out coal as a resource by 2038 and has recently completed a deal that turned it into Europe’s third-largest renewables player. (Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Christoph Steitz Editing by Madeline Chambers)