Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Weíve been here four days now, and not a hint of rain. After the past couple of summers during which we rarely saw the sun, this feels rather strange. Yesterday some high clouds moved in and are still with us this morning, but everything remains warm and dry. I havenít even been able to get any mud on the rental car yet. This will, no doubt, change soon enough. You can keep your religions, if Iím going to have faith in anything, it will be the English weather.

So far, just about everything has gone according to plan. The hired compressor was delivered on Monday, as scheduled. Byron pulled the water line into the mine, and unusually, there were no leaks to be chased down when he pressurized the system. By Monday afternoon he was back at the main face collecting again where he left off last year.

Daveís second daughter Shanade has worked part time for us in the past scrubbing the mud off fluorite specimens before we bin them for shipment home. In the past, I think she was just working for pocket money, but this year sheís graduated high school and will be going to university in the fall, so she was unusually anxious to get to work and earn some extra money. With Byron into collecting already we had several tubs of fresh, muddy bits for her to get started on. This also means that Iíll need to place an order for blue shipping bins and bubble wrap this morning in order to keep up with production.

Yesterday I spent much of the day at the face collecting with Byron. The tunnel seems to have gotten off the vein heading and we now have what looks like fluorite-containing flats extending from the east wall all the way around the front of the tunnel. Dave wants to shift the tunnel back onto the vein to the west as we push forward, but right now this means that there is room for several people to collect at the same time. Byron spent the day working on the east side where several horizontal seams of fluorite were exposed, and came up with a number of nice plates. I spent the day at the head of the tunnel, which looks, unlike the discrete seams to the east, to be a large collapsed pocket and is a jumble of rock, mud, and fluorite. There is a large, fluorite-coated boulder exposed in the middle of this, and I spent much of my day trying to dig around it so we can bring it out and saw it into manageable sized bits. By the end of the day I had yet to find the backside of the thing, however, suggesting that it must be REALLY big. Needless to say, while we likely moved about the same amount of rock, Byron had the better day of it. All-in-all, the area looks like it will continue to give us some good material, but the cloud to this silver lining is that the roof of the zone is full of large, loose rocks that will require constant supporting as we dig. As our landlord runs a sawmill in the quarry, our source of timber could not be more handy!

Today, Byronís younger brother Greg will be arriving for a visit and I will be picking him up at the Newcastle airport. Greg has recently retired from the US Navy and has a bit of free time, which Byron plans to spend for him helping around the mine for a few weeks. Free labor Ė the best kind!

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

Fresh produce from the Blue Bell Pocket.

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