Saturday, August 2, 2014

Good Morning from Weardale.

The weather has definitely turned on us here in the North Pennines. The past few days have been cloudy and cool, and it actually got around to raining off and on for much of the day yesterday. By the end of the day at the mine yesterday, the quarry was getting back to its usual muddy mess. Fortunately, it remained fairly warm (by Weardale standards), around 15C/60F for much of the day. Though not raining at the moment, it looks like we might be in for more of the same today.

As the pocket we discovered on Monday proved to be rather small, Wednesday was another drill and blast day. After conferring with Dave about how we wanted to shoot the rock around the pocket zone, I made a trip to our store to get the required supplies while Cal spent some time scrubbing and packing the take from earlier in the week. The rock in the pocket zone tends to be highly altered and broken up, which sometimes makes it difficult to drill holes that don’t immediately collapse on you. During the drilling process we had a few of these, but managed to get the zone drilled more-or-less how we wanted it and shot by the end of the day.

Thursday was a mucking out day, but Joe has been out much of the week with what appears to be tonsillitis. As a consequence I was the designated trammer for the day. Ian needed to catch a train on Thursday for a doctor’s appointment in London, so Cal gave him a ride to the Durham train station while Dave and I got started cleaning up the mess. And a right mess it was. Perhaps due to the already fractured nature of the rock the blast had pulled more ground than we expected, leaving us with a larger than expected pile of muck to shift. It also pulled out a set of timber, which we had to pull from the muck pile before having at it with the Eimco. As a result, mucking the face took much of the day. In anticipation of re-timbering the area, we pulled up a fresh supply of lumber from the quarry floor with the cable winch around 1700 and called it a day. German friend and collector Jurgen Tron arrived mid-afternoon for his annual visit, and got to experience some of the action first-hand. Unfortunately, his luggage had not arrived with him, and as of this writing is still elsewhere. Fortunately, Cal and Kerith had a few unused souvenir tee shirts from the Tucson show that fit him, which were donated to the cause.

Back at the mine yesterday, the three of us were in attendance at the face while Dave scaled the last loose rocks from the walls and ceiling before putting in the next timber set. Unfortunately, one of the rocks that needed to come down bounced in an unexpected direction, taking one of the previously installed timber supports with it. Down came much of that timber set with Cal underneath and yours truly right behind. Fortunately, it was only a few boards and no rock, so the only injuries were a minor scrape to Cal.

Having to rebuild the timber set added a bit more time to the process of securing the face, but by around 1500 we had the old set rebuilt, a new one installed, and the last of the scaled rock hauled out. Dave then gave the “all clear” to begin hunting for fluorite and out came the bars and water hose. I went down with Dave to discuss plans for next week while Cal and Jurgen had at the pocket zone. By the time I got back Cal had uncovered what appears to be another section of flats just to the right (east) of the area where we were getting the ugly bits on Tuesday. The quality of what was coming out was much better, and we managed to collect several tubs full of nice specimens in the next hour and a half. Around 1730 we decided to call it quits for the day because we had already seriously undercut a bit of the pocket ceiling, which was now beginning to look unstable.

First order of business today will be to try and scale down the loose rock around the pocket and get back at the fluorite. Ship-out is about two weeks away and we need to get all we can this year. Hopefully, this new fluorite zone will prove bigger than the last one.

Today’s photos are of the pocket zone at the face, the first after Wednesday’s blast and the second after getting it cleaned up and secured yesterday afternoon.

Stay tuned for more.

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Before and after.

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