Thursday, June 17, 2010

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather over the past few days has actually been fairly pleasant, here in the North Pennines. Tuesday began with a heavy cloud cover, but it never actually got around to raining on us, and by late afternoon the sun was out and has remained ever since. As an added bonus, the local midge population, despite putting in a few showings, still remains low. This morning we have sunshine again, and very little breeze, suggesting that we are in for a hot one today. Being the North Pennines, however, one learns not to count on the weather until it actually happens.

Life at the mine has been fairly routine this week. Byron and Greg continue to collect in the three alcoves that currently occupy the crushed zone on the west side of the tunnel near the main face. True to its name, much of what continues to come out of this zone shows ample evidence of past abuses. I did manage to collect a nice, if small bit there a couple days back, which is the subject of today’s photo.

Much of what we have recovered this week has been in the form of yet more very large, fluorite-covered rocks from the roof of the zone. Most of these must be transported out of the mine with the loco and then sawn into manageable sized bits on the landing. On Tuesday afternoon Byron got out the chain saw and power unit, and the two of us began the process of turning large specimens into small ones, taking turns at the saw. Less than an hour into the process the chain broke a link, halting the proceedings. After a bit of swearing, largely due to the fact that this was a relatively new chain, Byron dug out an older one to use as a replacement until we see if we can fix the new one. The older one is, as one would expect, rather worn, and trying to cut large rocks with a worn chain is quite a fight as the saw tends to bind up in the cut. Yesterday, Byron removed the broken link and reassembled the newer chain. It is, however, one link shorter now, and we are still not sure if it will fit back onto the saw. Guess we will find out today.

Dave has been busy at the face, first with timbering, and then with drilling for the next round of blasting. While Byron and I were busy fighting with a broken chain, Dave also had a relatively new drill steel break on him. Fortunately there was a spare handy, so he was able to complete the job without too much delay. After last week’s blast at the face we found the alteration zone was extending from the west side of the tunnel, high up across the face, but only a few scraps of fluorite were showing in it. While drilling again, Dave found iron-stained mud coming from drill holes lower on the face, suggesting that the alteration zone is spreading out in front of us. This is a good sign. The shot went off as planned at end of day yesterday, so as soon as Dave has it mucked out – which should be by this afternoon – we will know more.

My time has been occupied, for the most part, with washing, wrapping, and binning specimens, and running various errands such as collecting and paying bills with local suppliers. Some of this was hampered yesterday by the discovery that the local branch of Barclay’s Bank, where we have our account is now closed on Wednesdays, preventing me from getting a cheque cashed. Hopefully, I can get that done this morning as Byron is standing here telling me, in great detail, how he is running out of lunch supplies, and perhaps most importantly, out of beer at the cottage.

Until next time,


Jesse & Crew

A small bit that seems to have survived relatively unscathed.

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