July 5, 2000
Today was a grand day, crystals are coming out by the bucket full! And the quality is better than anything produced last year! The average size of the crystals are more than an inch and the luster and clarity is much better too. One twin was almost completely flawless and an inch and a half on a side in size. Some specimens have crystals 2 inches square. Thank God this was far enough from our previous blast not to be broken up. I think this pocket should be called the "Fourth of July Pocket" since Kell and I dug a nice gemmy crystal that day at the beginning of the pocket.
Tomorrow we will start using the diamond chain saw to remove plates now hanging from the roof of the pocket. It will take some time to set up everything needed to use the saw, i.e., new water connection and rerouting the hydraulic lines. Hopefully, this won't take long and we will be back in production.
Another thing that made the day stand out was the roof. A section between 2 main cracks that we have drifted through had an offset of about 1 foot making this part of the tunnel lower than the beginning of the drift. The mucker needs a full 7 feet of space to enable a full swing of the bucket and this section was barely over 6 feet. No problem, we just placed the "tub", ore car, under the section that is 7 feet and move the mucker back and forth from that spot. Well, after we mucked out the debris we noticed that the ceiling in the low section was now scraping our hard hats, not good. Then we noticed a 3 inch gap had formed at the contact with the flats and the ceiling was drooping. After lunch we scaled down about 15 feet of ceiling about 15 inches thick. Now we have a secure ceiling and plenty of room to operate the mucker anywhere in the new drift. We still may timber a section where the blocky Limestone is in contact with the flats. Here the texture of the rock changes and with using so much water to clean out the pockets the mist that is produced causes the mud/clay to expand in the cracks. Hopefully, the timber will stop this from happening again.
Other than the usual problems of broken air lines the only other problem that was unusual was with the "tub". Normally, when we dump the "tub" we attach a chain to the chassis so the thing doesn't go over in the dump with the muck and there has never been a problem with it. The muck produced from out scaling was blocky pieces, rather that broken pieces produced from blasting, and the tub kept jumping off the track. At least it didn't go over into the dump but trying to get an even empty ore car back on it's tracks is not easy. And it happened every time we dumped it which was many times. Dave finally said the chain isn't tight enough so he inserted a bar into the chain and twisted it to tighten the connection, and Voila!, no more jumping. That's knowing the tricks of the trade.
Someone is also nipping our diesel. I noticed this while filling the compressor in the morning, that the full drum was not so full. Must be someone who knows our schedule, hmmmm, we will talk with Alister about it.
Brain Young from the British Geological Service was out around lunch time and wanted to see what we were doing this year. This was the time we had noticed to ceiling problem and after taking one look at that part of the tunnel he turned and said well I guess there is nothing for me to see, got in his car and left.
Well, that ends another day of mining. Tomorrow shall be a good day to start using the diamond chain saw.
Till then, Cheers, Jim