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, 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 6.1 – South Crofty Miner John Wedlake Diamond Drilling, this was an ongoing project to find new ore reserves within the mine.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.2 – The group of miners having a discussion about the drill position.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.3 – John Usoro Geologist (Left) talking to Julian North whilst the drill is being adjusted.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.4 – Caught in the act of jumping off the drill stand.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.5 – The last image of this set is of the Diamond Drill doing its work.
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 197m but more typically up to 80 or 90 metres. The ordinary Bazooka was good for 30 – 50m but struggled after that. Thanks to Roger Wedlake for the Drill information.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.6 – John Usoro watching as a Diamond Drill is prepared for use.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.7 – The miners start to drill, the funk start to fill the passage.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.8 – The passage soon fills up with dust and water vapour.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.9 – By this time the passage was full and photography was all but a useless task, but it shows the conditions the guys worked in.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.10 – I will never loose my admiration for these special men. So far underground they were the bravest men I have ever met.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.11 – A final image of the pair of miners, disappearing into the funk.
The next two images are of one of the stranger Diamond Drills I saw working. Only on one occasion did I see this one in action.
Paul “Winja” Coppinger Soth 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 6.12 – The strangest Diamond Drill I had seen at South Crofty. John Usoro and two miners look on while the drill does its work.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.13 – Another image of the same bay showing a bit more detail on the drill.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.14 – South Crofty Miner Paul Coppinger “Winjer” using a Boyles Bazooka Diamond Drill. In the background is Julian North.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.15 – A second image of Paul operating the drill.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6.16 – This and the next three images were taken in a sequence to show how quickly the mine tunnels would fill up with the exhaust from the Diamond Drill. In this image the drill has just started, the Diamond Driller is Julian North.
South Crofty Mine 6.17 – After a few seconds drilling the passage “gets funky”.
South Crofty Mine 6.18 – The heat and humidity in such a confined space was oppressive.
South Crofty Mine 6.19 – The final image of the set. Photography became harder and harder, firstly I was deaf and blind, secondly 90% of the flash would be reflected back at me making the image useless, also focusing was impossible as the viewfinder would be full of condensation.
The rest of the 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 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.
South Crofty Mine 6.21 – Removing the drill core from the hole was a difficult job.
South Crofty Mine 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.
South Crofty Mine 6.23 – Finally free from the hole, the metal tube would unscrew to allow the rock samples to be removed.
South Crofty Mine 6.24 – This is my favorite image on this gallery. A good action shot of the pipes being pulled from the hole by Jonny Nicholls.
South Crofty Mine 6.25 – Jonny Nicholls in the foreground removing the hollow drill pipe that contained the core. This then went to be examined by the Geology Department.
South Crofty Mine 6.26 – In this image the 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.
South Crofty Mine 6.27 – The drill is fired up for another session.
South Crofty Mine 6.28 – The bay rapidly starts to fill with vapour and crap in the air.
South Crofty Mine 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