Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

On Monday it rained much of the day, changing the quarry into the proper mud hole we remember from past years, and the company car is now well spattered. The precipitation was not enough, however, to revitalize the quarry waterfall or add much to our disappearing ponds. No family of ducks to watch paddling around during lunch breaks this year. The rain held off for much of the day yesterday, but it remained overcast and humid. With little breeze, the midges were out in force. The clouds broke up late in the afternoon, giving us a nice lingering northern evening. The sun is out this morning, so perhaps we’re in for a dry day. Not that it really matters much when you spend your days underground, but it is nice to emerge to some sunshine at the end of the day when you’re covered in mud.

The week at the mine so far has been a series of diversions from the task at hand. The task at hand was getting the face mucked and timbered before Dave headed off for his bike race in Belgium. We got to a good start on Monday morning, but after several tubs of muck sent out and tipped over the side, Dave decided it was time to scale the roof at the face to bring down any loose rocks. One of the rocks that came down was truly huge, well over a cubic meter in size. Dave spent about 45 minutes trying to get it into the muck tub, but only succeeded in derailing the Eimco several times while trying to lift the rock. Finally admitting defeat, the rock was broken up by hand and hammer. By the time this was done, he had to be away, so the three of us entertained ourselves for the remainder of the afternoon by digging at a small vein pocket that had been exposed along the tunnel wall, just back from the face. A couple interesting quartz and fluorite combinations were found, but sadly, most things had suffered from being too close to the blast.

Back to mucking on Tuesday, we managed to get much of the face cleaned up, and Dave began installing the timber set. With only a couple more tubs of muck left at the face, the batteries in the loco decided to give up on us, and we were forced to put it back on charge and wait around for a while until it was able to pull the last tub out. Somewhere in the process Joe managed to run the loco over our water line, so repairing that will be on the list of things to do today. Today’s photo is of a tub of muck going over the side, as seen from below.

Dave had to be away before finishing the timbering, so Cal, Ian and I spent the last couple hours of the afternoon installing a vertical support in one corner and packing the roof boards up to the tunnel ceiling. By day’s end we were finally secure enough at the face to think about collecting, and a little picking about turned up a couple specimens that had survived the last blast.

Dave will be away for a week, so hopefully there will be enough fluorite available at the face to keep us busy. We also have now enough filled shipping bins to assemble our third pallet for the season, so a trip over to the timer mill will likely be made this week to do that.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Another load of mud and rock overthe side.

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