Friday, August 7, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here this week had been a good example of “changeable.” Typically, the day will begin cool and breezy with a few clouds drifting by. By mid-day heavier clouds will have moved in, which may or may not rain a bit on us. By late afternoon they have usually moved on again, giving us a clear evening, which, unfortunately, have not yet given us any colorful sunsets. Yesterday was a good example of the cycle, but being underground with Dave and Joe helping with the mucking, I totally missed the rainy bit. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t get wet and muddy, however.

Back at the mine on Monday, the morning was spent finishing the mucking and installing the next timber set at the face. That finished by mid-afternoon, Dave responded to the siren call of the motorcycle, still in bits in his work shed, and left us to having a ratch about the face. The altered mineralization zone was still present across much of the face, but gave up little of any importance to our digging through the afternoon. Much of what did turn up was pretty well broken up and even the single crystals were, for the most part, chipped and broken.

Dave, figuring that Tuesday would be a collecting day (as opposed to proper mining) took the day off to spend in the shed, and left the three of us to have another go at the face. It turned out that there were a few sort-of decent things to be had from the eastern margin of the zone, but by mid afternoon we had dug into the face and wall far enough to undermine a fair portion of the zone. With big rocks hanging above us and little to be had for our efforts, we decided to wrap it up early and give it back to Dave for another round of blasting.

And so on Wednesday morning the cycle began once again. After picking up the explosives from our magazine and delivering to the mine, I headed off to the Big City (Bishop Auckland in this case) to deal with several issues. First was a stop at our bank branch office to try and sort out a sudden lack of on-line access to our account. After receiving assurances that this was only due to a temporary website problem, I then went in search of a replacement for my mobile phone, which had suffered what is likely the electronic equivalent of a stroke, and was now giving me only random colored lined on the display.

Being the international jet-setter that I am, I wanted to get a phone that was unlocked (i.e.; one that would work with multiple networks). For a number of years now, I’ve had both a number in the US and one here in the UK, and the phone I had gotten from my US service provider worked fine for this, by simply switching the SIM-card. Unfortunately, it took me almost an hour to find out that my UK provider could not offer me something similar. They did, however, direct me to a nearby electronics shop that sold all manor of phones. My old phone was of the “dumb-phone” variety, but sadly, these are going the way of the dinosaur, so few were on offer. Not wanting to be tied to a computer 24/7, I’ve so far resisted the lure of a smart-phone, but it was obvious that some adaptation would be necessary. So, in short order I was in possession of a slightly used but unlocked Blackberry at a bargain price courtesy of a young punk-rock lass with bleached blonde hair, lip studs, and a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” t-shirt.

Back at the mine, I found Dave well into the drilling, and by end of day the shot was fired. Back up dale, I set to the task of sorting out my new mobile communication device, only to discover that, while my US SIM card worked perfectly in it, the phone would not recognize the UK one. Guess I’ll need to visit my local service provider once again, but this will likely need to wait until I’m back down in London later in the month. I also tried logging on to our on-line bank account, only to find the problem remained, despite assurances to the opposite. Rather than waste time driving back to the Big City, I decided to try calling the bank’s help line. After speaking with a couple folks who were likely working the night shift at a call center in Bangalore, and spending about 45 minutes on hold listening to the same awful bit of music over and over, I finally got to someone who was able to fix the problem. Man triumphs over technology once again. Perhaps only a small win, but we take our victories where we can, these days!

Back at the mine yesterday morning, we found the shot had gone largely as planned and there were no timbers sticking out of the muck pile at odd angles. The muck pile had a fair amount of mud in it this time around, which creates a sticky mess that is difficult to scoop up, so the mucking process took much of the day. By quitting time we had it cleaned up, however, and were able to start on the timbering. There are several layers of fluorite showing across the face, and the east side looks particularly promising. Today’s photo is of Dave and the Eimco, preparing to do battle with the latest muck pile.

Dave wants to lay another length of rail to the face, which will be the first task of the day. This is best done before we get in there and make a mess with water and digging tools, so it will likely be early afternoon before we are able to get at the face and see what we may have turned up.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Getting ready to do battle with the muck pile, once again!

Go Back