Friday, July 6, 2007

Greetings from Weardale.

For the past few days the weather here has been a little more summer-like, meaning that it hasnít rained constantly. In fact, the water level in the quarry has finally fallen to the point that Byron was able to drive in yesterday with a load of fuel for the compressor. As if to remind us not to become complacent about things, it started pouring down again soon afterwards.

The weather did hold pretty well on Wednesday, so Byron spent much of the day trimming down our accumulation of large specimens with the chain saw. Some of the recently collected ones were truly large, requiring two people to shift them around. When time comes to sell these things on we sometimes get complaints from folks who donít fancy saw cuts on their specimens. I, however, have yet to find a collector who is willing to purchase a 20 kg rock with a spot of fluorite on one end, so we live with the saw cuts.

Between helping Byron with the sawing, I got a cycle of cleaning baths going for some of the better specimens weíve recovered so far. Last year we were able to tie a tarp between the two sheds, which made a nice roof for an outdoor cleaning area. With the stormy weather weíve had so far this year, I havenít done this for fear of having the tarp torn to bits by the wind. Regardless, things are starting to accumulate on the tables in the second shed, so soon it will be time to start wrapping and binning the first round. This, of course, means that I need to place an order for our blue plastic shipping bins. Another thing to do this morning.

Yesterday we got back to some serious collecting in the Dodgy Bugger area of the West Cross Cut. Byron managed to get several large fluorite-covered plates exposed at the back of the cavity, but was unable to dislodge anything but a few small pieces. I spent much of the day hauling out buckets of muck from the cavity and screening for crystals. Byron thinks weíll have to excavate the floor on the pocket a bit more in order to get the partially exposed plates out, so I imagine that Iíll be hauling more muck for him today.

Dave, meanwhile, has been busy drilling several faces in anticipation of our first round of blasting. We will be pushing forward on both the main heading, which is showing strong mineralization but few cavities at the moment, as well as our second exit tunnel. A second exit is required for mines by the local authorities and will also help improve air circulation in the mine. Byron now has all his required permits in place, so I now must fax them off to the powder supplier so we can place an order. Another thing to do this morning.

Well, enough if this for the moment, must get moving for the day. Iíll leave you with a photo of one of the bits that came out of Byronís chain saw massacre. The original rock was a two-person job, well over 20 kg.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron


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