Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Good Morning from Weardale.

Yesterday marked the first attempt at rain we have had here for some time now. Though cool and heavy overcast all day, it only got up to a drizzle a couple times, so the mud levels are still low in the quarry. This morning begins quite sunny, though there is still little breeze to keep the bugs away. If it gets warm enough, perhaps they will desiccate.

Back at the mine on Monday, we decided that, rather than waste more time digging at the chewed up zone of fluorite and galena, we would blast again. First order of business was to clean up the mess that Cal and I had made over the weekend. As we had been using water to wash down the fluorite exposure, the muck pile was rather wet and muddy. If one shovels a load of wet muck directly into the tub, it tends to stick to the tub rather than tip nicely off the end of the landing. On occasion this has resulted in the tub itself going over the side and down the tip. Figuring that we all have had enough practice pulling lost muck tubs back up onto the landing, Dave decided to first line the tub with some relatively dry debris that was out of our line of fire on Saturday. Worked like a charm, and we had our muddy mess at the face cleared in short order with no accidents at the tipping end.

Dave then finished off timbering the face, and after lunch we drilled a couple exploratory holes with the 6-foot drill steel. While Dave drilled in the direction we anticipated the pocket zone to be, I sat in last summer’s hand-excavated crosscut watching and listening for any sign of an approaching drill hole. None was to be had, so we decided to drill and fire the whole face as normal. Drilling went fairly quickly and the shot was fired by around 1630.

Back yesterday morning, we found that the blast had gone of about as well as could be expected, and there was now a nice neat (and fairly large) pile of rock awaiting us. Examining the debris, we found a fair amount of ironstone mixed with massive fluorite and some galena. From the looks of this, it seems as if we have now crossed the main vein, and that the chewed up zone of fluorite we were digging at on Sunday was actually a small section of flats on the west side of the vein. The productive zone in last summer’s crosscut is on the east side of the vein, so all indications are that we are headed in the right direction, and should now be getting close. Today’s photo shows our nice, neat muck pile with all timbering remarkably intact.

Mucking a full shot at the face is a full-day experience, and occupied much of our time. By around 1600 the batteries in the loco were in serious need of recharging, and not wanting to have the thing give out mid-tunnel pulling a heavy tub full of muck we switched to timbering. Fortunately, we had cleared away most of the debris from the face and Dave was able to get much of the next timber set in before heading home.

Having hit the main vein, we are now into what Dave calls our “shite zone’” which is a fracture filled with mud and bits of rock that we have been following for a couple years now. This thing is very difficult to maintain a tunnel through, so Dave has been keeping the main drift away from it as we move northward. Fortunately, we are hitting it at close to perpendicular, so our tunnel through it will be short.

Today we are planning to finish the timbering and drill and shot again. We will first put in some exploratory drill holes toward where we think the pocket zone is, as we did on Monday, in hopes of not actually blowing into the pocket zone by mistake. It is sometimes hard to be gentle with explosives, but we try our best.

Until next time,

Jesse, Cal & Kerith

Made another mess - guess we'll have to clean it up now!

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