Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

Remarkably (for this year, at least), we have had a series of fairly good days here in the dale. By fairly good, I mean that there have been no torrential downpours, some occasional outbreaks of sunshine, and enough breeze to keep the midges away. Yesterday afternoon is was almost summer-like with temperatures around 70F/21C. As a result of this anomalous weather, the quarry is drying out nicely, though a few mud patches do remain, if for no other reason than to remind us what could (and likely will) happen when things get back to normal.

After our collecting binge last Thursday and Friday, the pocket, while still showing patches of pocket mud, is largely beyond reach and another blast is needed to move the floor forward and allow us to get at the pocket again. In addition, some more large rocks in the ceiling of the cross-cut are becoming restless, and will require Daveís attention. As a result, collecting has largely come to a halt.

After being away for a couple days dealing with the installation of solar panels on his house, Dave and Joe came in on Saturday and finished the job of rearranging the rail outside the mine portal. The curve coming out of the portal is now gentler so hopefully we wonít have quite the problem of frequently derailed cars at this spot anymore. This will also allow us room to install a second steel girder to support the portal, which is showing signs of taking weight from above.

Back on Monday, Dave, Joe and Andrew got the front of the main tunnel mucked out and ready for the next round of blasting, while Cal and I played host to some more visitors for part of the day. After the front end was sufficiently cleaned out, Ian and Dave got our latest large rock down from the cross-cut, onto the loco and driven outside. After constructing a ramp with some timber, we slid it off the loco and began the process of sawing it up. The fluorite-coated patch on the rock was isolated to one side, but still required at least five cuts to dismember the rock and get the desired portion. The final recovered bit still weighed in at around 10 kg, but was attractive enough to make the time, effort, and wear on the chain saw to be worthwhile. The problem with operations like this is that it is often difficult to judge the final quality of what we are after until itís finally cut out, and sometimes a lot of effort is spent getting something that was not really worth it. Todayís photo is of the final product. It will now be packed up for shipment back to California, where it will be reduced further by methods more precise than a chain saw.

Today we plan/hope to start the next round of blasts in hopes of moving forward in the cross-cut, at the main face, and in our incipient eastward cross-cut near the face. While this is going on, Cal and I will busy ourselves with maintenance chores, including changing a worn fan belt on the hydraulic power unit. This may sound simple, but it isnít.

Stay tuned for moreÖ


Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith

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