Thursday, August 6, 2009

Greetings from Weardale,

Yesterday the weather was about as good as it gets here – sunny and around 24C/72F, slight breeze to keep the midges away, and best of all, no rain. In other words, a rare day here in Weardale this summer. This morning looks like we may be in for more of the same. Now, if we can just find some good fluorite specimens, life will be pretty near perfect.

Tuesday’s blast at the face went off well, and Dave and Joe spent much of the day mucking out the resulting pile of rubble. The new exposure at the face is promising as the alteration zone on the west side is becoming larger and extending further across the face to the east. In hopes that another section of flats may be at hand, we are planning to drill and blast the face again as soon as possible.

The current pocket at the face is located on the west side of the tunnel, and has now been pushed back about 3-4 meters. This allowed Byron to continue collecting through the day while Dave was mucking the tunnel. Though he managed to produce a number of tubs of specimens, almost all were damaged to some extent. There is some nice looking fluorite exposed at the back of the pocket, but it is all cemented together by calcite and very difficult to collect. The calcite is likely from the fracture zone along the vein, which suggests we are very close to it, and that if any fluorite is in our near future, it will be to the north, in the direction of the tunnel heading.

Around noon our German dealer Jurgen Margraf arrived, along with Robert Brandstetter, a fluorite collector and friend from Austria. After getting them suited up in the proper mud-resistant attire I gave them a tour, and then turned them loose to collect in the Vein Pocket. Cal has been collecting there for the past several days but found that it requires an incredible amount of hammer and chisel work to get anything out, so seemed happy to turn it over to some new and enthusiastic collectors. Sure enough, enthusiasm and some fresh arm muscles resulted in a couple nice clusters of large untwined fluorites by mid-afternoon. Today’s photo is of the team in action.

Over the course of the summer we have been blasting a short tunnel to reach the back end of the Rat Hole pocket, which will allow the last of the remaining fluorite to be harvested. The last blast encountered the rear of the pocket, revealing some nice fluorite that we had not harvested when working the pocket in 2007. Unfortunately, there are some large, loose rocks in the roof in front of the best looking part of the pocket that need to be secured. Perhaps it’s the ghost of the Dodgy Bugger pocket coming back to haunt us. Cal and I spent some time hammering in wedges and supports yesterday, so hopefully it will be secure enough to collect in today.

Dave will be finishing up at the face today, installing another timber set and extending the rail. If all goes well, hopefully we can drill and blast again tomorrow. Byron will, undoubtedly, continue to collect at the face, and maybe Cal and I can get into the remains of the Rat Hole.

Forward in all directions,

Jesse & Crew

"Just hit it again!".

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