A material ropeway or ropeway conveyor: 659 is a subtype of gondola lift, from which containers for goods rather than passenger cars are suspended.
Material ropeways are typically found around large mining concerns, and can be of considerable length. The COMILOG Cableway, which ran from Moanda in Gabon to Mbinda in the Republic of the Congo, was over 75 km (47 mi) in length. The Norsjö aerial tramway in Sweden had a length of 96 km (60 mi).
Conveyors can be powered by a wide variety of forms of energy, such as electricity, engines, or gravity (particularly in mountainous mining concerns, or where running water is available). Gravity-driven conveyors may qualify as zip-lines, as no electricity is used to operate them, instead relying on the weight of carts going down providing propulsion for empty carts going up.
The first recorded mechanical ropeway was by Croatian Fausto Veranzio who designed a bicable passenger ropeway in 1616. The world's first cable car on multiple supports was built by Adam Wybe in Gdańsk, Poland in 1644. It was powered by horses and used to move soil over the river to build defences.
In Eritrea, the Italians built the Asmara-Massawa Cableway in 1936, which was 75 km (47 mi) long. The Manizales - Mariquita Cableway (1922) in Colombia was 73 km (45 mi) long.
Amongst the first material ropeways in India was the Amarkantak Ropeway in Chaktipani, Korba, Chhatisgarh, which was 16.8 km (10.4 mi) long with capacity of 150 TPH constructed by Damodar Ropeways & Infra Ltd. (DRIL) (formerly known as (Damodar Enterprises Ltd. (DEL). It was made for Bharat Aluninium Company (Balco) in collaboration with Nikex, Hungary.
In the United Kingdom, aerial ropeways used for conveying mining goods and materials were historically common; however, just one remains in existence and operation, in Claughton, Lancashire, constructed in 1924 and used for quarrying shale to make bricks. It is scheduled to be demolished in 2036, once the last of the shale has been quarried.