Thursday, May 30, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather for the week has so far been uniformly cold and wet. At least the temperatures have been above last Fridayís chilly 5C. I donít think Iíve seen the sun since last weekend. The amount of rain has lessened, however, and the most we usually have now is more of a drizzle than a downpour, so the pond level in the quarry is now down to a manageable level.

Yesterday morning Dave and Joe set to mucking out the debris from the final blast last summer in the side tunnel where we found the Giant. After they got much of the muck shifted down into the main drift I crawled up to have a look. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of fluorite on the newly exposed face, which means that the fluorite seam has shifted eastward. This means that for now we must do our collecting from the main tunnel. This also means that we donít have a second face to collect at while Dave drives the main drift forward. Yesterday afternoon Ian spent a bit of time washing mud out of the space behind where the Giant was found and came up with a few good bits. We will likely spend some more time there today, but unless Iím mistaken, there isnít enough untouched ground left to yield very much more.

While Dave and Joe were busy with mucking out the side drift, Ian and I attempted to split out the large fluorite covered rock from the east side of the face that we had uncovered earlier in the week. The rock appears firmly attached to its surroundings so we decided to try and split it with feather and wedges. Our portable Bosch hammer drill worked as it should and we soon had a series of holes drilled into the side of the rock. Unfortunately, the feather and wedges were just a bit too short to deal with the rock and rather than splitting it horizontally as hoped, we only managed to break out some bits of it.

With that project at a stand-still, we decided to try and bring down some of the seemingly loose rocks in the roof at the face with a long bar, and see what, if anything could be safely recovered from the face. By late afternoon we had successfully created a large pile of rock that we could stand on and get at the fluorite seam at a somewhat comfortable level. The fluorite seam appears to be continuing northward in this area and by end of day we had recovered several decent specimens and exposed yet another rather large plate in the roof. Unlike the one on the east side of the face, this one quickly showed a fracture around the top and back. Unfortunately, it was far too large for one person to handle and the geometry of the rock pile we were standing on didnít allow for two people to get at it together. The day was late so Dave suggested bring up the scaffolding and trying to get at it more safely in the morning.

Back at it yesterday morning. Dave and Joe quickly had the face mucked out again. While they were at the task, it occurred to me that we have already accumulated a fair collection of large fluorite covered rocks that need the attention of the diamond chain saw before we can wrap and bin them for shipment back home. Getting the hydraulic power unit for the saw up and running each year can sometimes be a chore, so I decided it was time to get started with that. The starter battery for the unit died on us at the end of last summer, so the first thing to be done was to get a new one from our local auto repair shop. I remembered that the starter switch had also been acting up so I had them order a new one for us as well. Back at the mine after getting the stuff ordered I found that Dave had not only finished the mucking but had erected the scaffold and removed our most recent large rock. The thing is currently residing in our wheel barrow because it is so large that no one wants to try to pick it up. Todayís photo is of the next potential chain saw victim.

This morning Iíll be stopping by the auto repair shop to pick up the new battery and switch, then hope the power unit will start up as it should. Dave plans some timbering at the face and then start the drilling for our first shot of the season. I suspect that Ian will be playing with the copious amounts of mud remaining in the Giant alcove in search of a few more bits.

Stay tuned for moreÖ


Jesse & Ian

the next chain saw victim

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