South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6: There were some amazing memories. On one occasion at South Crofty the Dry Manager told me there was a pasty run and did I want one. It was after one of my weeks where I was underground every day. It was a little thing but I felt it was a  form of acceptance. I always dropped off a few prints in the dry for the miners to help themselves to, it was just my way of giving a bit back.

This is the first of three pages which cover Diamond Drilling at South Crofty. This was an ongoing project to find new reserves and to prove known lodes in the mine. The drill pipe was basically hollow with its head being encrusted with industrial diamonds. Water forced down the tube would reduce heat and friction whilst washing out the smaller rock particles. Once the drill hole was complete the tube would be removed from the hole. Held within would be a circular section of rock which was removed and arranged in wooden core boxes. These would than be marked and transported to the surface where they would be analysed for their mineral content. This was an expensive operation which the mine carried out to try to ensure its future.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.1 – South Crofty Miner John Wedlake Diamond Drilling, this was an ongoing project to find new ore reserves within the mine.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.2 – Whilst the drill does its work the area would soon fill up with debris and water vapour. This made photography very difficult.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.3 – The group of miners having a discussion about the drill position.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.4 – John Usoro Geologist (Left) talking to Julian North whilst the drill is being adjusted.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.5 – Caught in the act of jumping off the drill stand.

The main air powered diamond drill used at South Crofty was the Boyles Bazooka. This was modified by South Crofty to produce the ‘Superbazooka’ which was once used to drill a massive 197m but more typically up to 80 or 90m. The ordinary Bazooka was good for 30 – 50m but struggled after that. Thanks to Roger Wedlake for the Drill information.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.6 – The last image of this set is of the Diamond Drill doing its work.

The next set of images are probably one of the stranger Diamond Drills I saw working at South Crofty. Only on one occasion did I see this one in action.
Paul “Winja” Coppinger South Crofty Diamond Driller has some comments about the drill: “Looks like a Diamec 360. So called because it could drill 360 degrees around. It was electro hydraulic. If I remember correctly, this one was a bit of a pig in a poke”.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.7 – John Usoro talking to one of the miners in the Diamond Drill bay.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.8 – In the foreground is the power unit for the drill.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.9 – Final adjustments being made to this strange looking machine.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.10 – With the mast extended the drill starts to do its work.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.11 – The miners watch as the drill work, if I remember correctly this had an awful noise when it was working.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.12 – A final image of this drill in action.

Diamond drilling was hard work for the operators. They had to drill the hole exactly as directed, if they went off course it could cost a great deal of money. Also this was often carried out in the end of a drive, the noise and vapour in the air was a challenge for the miners.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.13 – John Usoro chatting to the miners as they prepare to fire up a Diamond Drill.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.14 – The miners start to drill, rapidly the “funk” starts to fill the passage.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.15 – Very quickly the miners disappear into the mist.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.16 – The drill would require an enormous amount of air to work effectively. This image shows the air pipes feeding the drill snaking over the floor of the drive.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

South Crofty Mine Underground 6.17 – Another image, by this time the passage was full and photography was all but a useless task. However it clearly shows the conditions the guys worked in.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.18 – I will never loose my admiration for these special men. So far underground they kept the tradition of Cornish Mining alive.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.19 – A final image of the pair of miners, disappearing into the funk.

The remaining images on this page are of a pair of miners drilling for No:9 Lode from the NPZ drill bay on 400 Fathom South Crofty.  Reeve’s Lode (1-1.5m of solid green fluorite) cutting across the bay marked by Nick Le Boutillier in paint on the walls. Reeve’s Lode is the major caunter lode of the district and runs E-W for over 2 miles. It stretches from surface to 400 Fathom (the lowest point it was ever seen). Near surface, it lies just under the road at Pool roundabout. It was fabulously rich in copper and made huge sums for the adventurers of Pool Adit in the 18th Century. Deeper down it also carried a lot of zinc, but this was never exploited; below 250 Fathom it became barren and was composed of fluorite and quartz.

South Crofty Mine Underground 6

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.20 – Diamond Drillers Jonny Nicholls(R) and Paul Richards “Snitcher”(L) working 0n a Standard Boyles Bazooka Diamond Drill. In this image the drill has been dropped from its mountings so the hollow drill core can be removed.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.21 – Removing the drill core from the hole was a difficult job.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.22 – This image shows Jonny Nicholls about to pull the tube from the hole. The drill was powered by compressed air, the tripod on the right were the controls.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.23 – Finally free from the hole, the metal tube would unscrew to allow the rock samples to be removed.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.24 – This is certainly my favorite image on this gallery. A good action shot of the pipes being pulled from the hole by Jonny Nicholls.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.25 – Jonny Nicholls in the foreground removing the hollow drill pipe that contained the core. The samples then went to be examined by the Geology Department.

The remaining images were taken when the drill has started to work again, also the camera had started to steam up.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.26 – In this image the camera lens had also started to mist up. The heat at the end of the drives was always overpowering. The drill is now being locked again in position for the next round of drilling.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.27 – The drill is fired up for another session, because of the noise it was an unpleasant place to be.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.28 – The small drilling bay rapidly starts to fill with vapour and crap in the air.

Cornish Mine Images

Cornish Mine Images Underground 6.29 – The last image on this page shows how in a very short time it’s impossible to see your hand in front of your face. Because of the vapour and the extreme heat it made this an unbearable place to be.

South Crofty Mine Underground 7

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