Monday, August 3, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here in Weardale has remained cold and rainy, for the most part. I do remember coming out of the mine after a few hours of digging at the face to find the sun out on Thursday, but I think that was the last time. This, however, did not make up for the fact that I was caught in a torrential downpour the previous afternoon while locking up the containers at the end of the day. This morning begins clear, if still cool. We could use a sunny day as we will be working outside this morning, hauling timbers up to the mine.

Work at the mine over the past few days has been a series of starts and stops. Ian and I spent a few hours at the face, digging at the fluorite seam, which had become rather scrappy. We managed to collect a few things that could be called proper specimens, but soon what remained of the seam was beyond reach and underneath some dodgy looking rocks. It was decision time, as we would either need to bring down a load of roof rock by hand or give it over to Dave to begin another round of drilling. Given the paltry state of collecting, we decided for the Dave option.

Cal had been down in the container wrapping and binning specimens for shipment, where he was at least staying day, if not warm, and informed us that we are now only a couple bins short of having a fourth pallet to send back. After a bit of helping with the wrapping chores, I went back up to the mine to check on Dave and the progress with drilling, only to find him with a spanner taking various bits off the drill. Not a good sign. Evidently something was clogging the water line, and it looked like it was internal to the drill. We have a second drill in the container, but after swapping them out Dave announced that the second was in worse condition than the first one, and the only option was for him to take it back to his shop, strip it to bits and try to figure out what the problem was. End of drilling for the day!

About this time a German friend, Jurgen Tron showed up for a quick visit, so we gave him a brief tour around, had a look at some of the recent production, then closed up for the day. Back up dale, we spent the evening giving Jurgen a tour of the local pubs (all two of them) where he enthusiastically tried all the local ales that were available.

Friday Cal, Kerith and Jurgen were off for a visit to Scotland and the Leadhills mining area, so Ian and I went in to help Dave finish up the drilling. Fortunately, the problem with the drill was only some corrosion lodged in the narrow pipe that feeds the water to the drill steel, and Dave was able to get it sorted. Back in business, the face was drilled and the shot fired by mid afternoon. Even with ventilation, it usually takes several hours for the air to clear after a full shot at the face, so the workday on Friday ended early, as well.

Saturday Cal & Co. were still of prowling about Scotland, and Ian and I were away for mineral specimen auction just south of Birmingham, so everyone rendezvoused back at the mine Sunday morning to get started mucking the face. The shot had, mercifully, gone according to plan and this time we were not presented with a jumble of rocks and timber, just a nice, neat pile of rock in the tunnel. That is, if a pile of recently blasted rock can ever be thought of as neat. After about four hours we had much of it shoveled out and dumped over the side, so being Sunday we decided at least half a day of rest was in order and closed up early, again. Back up dale, Ian was able to catch a pre-season football game between his team Arsenal and arch rivals Chelsea. Arsenal won, so Ian was happy.

Despite the relative paucity of wildflowers in the quarry this summer, I noticed yesterday that the yellow ragweed has grown a nice bouquet on top of the mine entrance, and today’s photo shows the current decoration, along with Cal and Ian pushing the hydraulic power unit into the mine at close-up.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

A bouquet of flowers over the portal.

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