July 12, 2000

Today was a lovely day, white puffy clouds, blue sky and no rain. It felt like a perfect day in San Diego.

We finally got our diesel and were able to muck the face clean. After some discussion, we decided not to drill and blast yet but to open the immediate area using the diamond chain saw. I made 4 cuts in a rock that protrudes on the right side and was able to gain another foot of space. That doesn't sound like much, but it almost doubled the space we had. We are still trying to get to the large crystal on the ceiling and are about 10 inches away now.

Next, I attacked the left where a bottom plate has a 2 1/2 inch cube on it with another cube almost as large just behind it buried in the calcite. It took nearly all afternoon of cutting with the saw and I tried to completely under cut it as well as a vertical cut on each side leaving just the back to break. I had nearly completely under cut it with only a small portion on each side remaining but impossible to get to with the saw. We thought it would be OK and went ahead with the hammer and wedges. It broke right through the 2 1/2 inch crystal. Apparently there was a fracture with calcite that we couldn't see that ran right through the middle of the cube and of course that is where it broke. Byron said that happened a lot last year, they never break where you want or expect them to.

Some of our trials and tribulations in the mining are with the water hose. First, they are very light duty and really can't take the pressure we have coming off the main, I think around 60 LBS of pressure. They swell up like a sausage and eventually blow up, especially if they are nicked by a rock. We have looked everywhere for a heavy duty hose with no luck. Another problem is with the spray nozzle. They are made of plastic and have a quick release connection that releases at will. At least 6 times the damn nozzle popped off today and the hose sprang to life spraying everything. (Good thing I was already wet!) I finally just turned it off at the valve. Even the hose clamps are sh.t and won't work after they have been tighten once. Slowly, we have been bringing things from the US to replace the UK made stuff. Thank God customs has never checked us to see what we are carrying. The first year Byron brought a duffle bag full of hydraulic line and connections and you can be sure you'll never find anything here that matches.

All in all a very frustrating day having broke that crystal. Tomorrow, we will saw some more dead rock to gain more space.

Some good news. The cavity is opening up and is nearly 10 inches high in the back where we have been able to wash out the mud. Since we hit the fluorite on the left corner we have been digging perpendicular to the tunnel towards Byron's pocket from last year. It's now opened up about 4 feet back from our last saw cut and Byron uses a long stick to probe pieces to see if they are attached to the floor or ceiling. If they are not he will wash and probe till they are loose and gently pull them out. Unfortunately, we have a massive wall on the right side preventing us from moving straight ahead. I'm afraid to blast knowing what will happen to the crystals if we do.

The saga will continue tomorrow..... Cheers, Jim



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