Friday, June 15, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

It was a relatively nice day yesterday, a rare event here lately. Cool, but no rain and the breeze helped dry things out and blew the midges away. All has changed this morning and it is once again pissing down rain.

The past two days at the mine have been spent at the face mucking, timbering, and collecting. Shot another round at the face end of day Tuesday, and Dave and I spent much of the next two days cleaning it up and timbering. Normally this is a one day process, but when Dave started scaling the wall and roof after the blast he dislodged a good bit more loose rock. As a result, the process carried over into Thursday. This morning we are planning a light shot in the new cross cut in hopes of loosening up the floor of the zone and allowing collecting to move forward. Even if we manage not to rearrange the timbering this time, it will still give us yet another mess to clean up after.

While I was busy driving the tram, pushing the muck tub and helping Dave haul timber up to the mine (and getting lots of experience dealing with derailed locos), Cal and Ian got some collecting done in the new cross cut. The fluorite zone is a continuation of the Pennyís Pocket zone we worked late last summer, but we are now about 10 meters further north along the main vein. The fluorite seam is still very high up, so we have started the cross cut at a level about a meter above the tunnel floor. Underneath the fluorite seam is still the same thick, dense, largely unbroken layer of rock that caused us so much grief while collecting last year. It would be nice if we could drill and shoot this layer but it is much to close to the fluorite zone, so it must be worked by hand. We have had Dave drill several holes into this rock and used feather and wedge sets to split it by hand. Unfortunately, at the end of day yesterday, one of these sets remained stuck in one large rock, which despite much hammering, refused to split.

The nice thing about the new collecting area is that, unlike last summer, we are getting a good percentage of smaller specimens that will not require the chain saw. Last year we got almost nothing but a bunch of 20 kg monsters that required a lot of additional work once out of the ground. This year we are getting a fair number of hand-sized pieces. One of the better specimens so far, recovered by Cal on Wednesday, is the feature of todayís photo. The seam looks like it continues from the alcove both northward and south, back toward our collecting spot of last year. The roof in the new alcove appears much more stable than the previous one, so hopefully we wonít have the problem of randomly dropping rocks, at least not to the extent of last year. Collecting has reached the limit of oneís reach in the alcove, so it is likely little will get done until after we shoot the floor and clean up the resulting mess.

Time to get ready for the dayís cold soggy adventure.

More soon,


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

A bonnie little bit.

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