Friday, August 10, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

Our spell of summer weather continues – sunny, clear, a bit of a breeze, and temperatures in the low 70s F/20s C. Wednesday was absolutely clear, but yesterday some high clouds passed through, and lingered long enough to give us a real nice sunset – a rare occurrence this summer, and documented in today’s photo. Besides making life a bit more enjoyable when one emerges wet and muddy from the mine, the current spell of good weather has sparked a frenzy of hay-gathering by the local farmers, as one doesn’t want to harvest wet hay least it rot on you afterward. Wednesday afternoon upon arriving at our after-work retreat (aka the Blue Bell pub) we were confronted with what happens when the transport of a load of newly bailed hay goes awry while being transported through the middle of a rural village. If you want to see what passes for excitement in a place like this, photos are on the Blue Bell’s Facebook page.

After our success Tuesday afternoon on the south side of our current cross-cut, Ian Emmanuel and Cal were eager to get back in for more on Wednesday morning. When cleaned up, the large specimen from Tuesday was really quite nice and will hopefully give us at least two excellent specimens when trimmed up. I had to go out in search of some off-road diesel for our thirsty compressor and upon returning found the three well covered in mud, and after yet another large specimen. During the course of the day, a couple more specimens were recovered, but none quite matched the quality of the large one from the day before. The area we were collecting is now getting close to the back side of the cavity we were working in at the end of 2011. A lot of secondary calcite is also showing up in this area, which tends to cement everything together and make collecting difficult. I am not sure how much more we may be able to get out of this area, but we may do one more small blast early next week and see what turns up.

Dave spent much of the day cleaning up the face and getting ready for another blast at the end of the day. We started an eastward cross-cut last week, and another shot was planned, in order to push it forward. The ground we have encountered here so-far is heavily altered to clay and ironstone, but no fluorite is showing yet. A second cross-cut is also being started on the west side of the main tunnel, directly opposite this one. The intent is to intersect the north end of the alcove where we got the big rock, and give us a second opening to haul muck out through. At the end of the day the shots went off as planned.

An inspection of the two new crosscut tunnels yesterday morning showed things had gone pretty much as planned. It will likely take one more shot on the west side tunnel to reach the north end of the big rock alcove, and we are planning on this for early next week. The shot in the eastern cross-cut tunnel also went as planned, but after puling another five feet or so of ground, we still appear to be in the midst of the heavily altered mélange of mud and ironstone. We have never encountered such a large area of this type of stuff in the mine, before, and it will be interesting to see whether any mineralization turns up further to the east.

Dave, Joe and Andrew spent much of the day cleaning up after the blasts and late in the afternoon Dave began installing the next set of timbers at the face. Cal and I started preparations for getting The Giant down from the mine and ready for shipment home. First step was to move it onto a small pallet that I had drilled holes through so we can insert a couple of horizontal poles, which will allow us to lift it. My guess is that the thing still weighs at least 250 kg, but with four people it can now be lifted and moved without too much bother. We still need to get it down from the mine, and as the stairs are too steep for four people to negotiate while carrying such a load, the current plan is to securely strap the padded rock and pallet onto one of the sections of our mine door (which we will need to remove from its hinges), and slowly slide it down the tip with our wench. When at the bottom, we can then carry it away.

Dave and Joe are off today to attend a family wedding in Darlington, so the rest of us will start getting the rock ready for the next stage of its journey today. The sun is out so at least we won’t be doing it in the rain. I hope.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

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