Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2, this is the second page of images taken during my visit in May 2012. The images are taken within the pit and show the production side of the mining operation. Because of the nature of the pit, the sun caused a few issues with the camera metering. Similar to taking photographs in the snow. I have however compensated at the printing stage and got some quite good results.
The mining methods used here are quite simple and have not changed since the early days. Once the overburden rock has been removed by blasting the clay bearing rock is exposed. The traditional method of mining china clay is by using high pressure jets of water which erode the working face of the pit. The Kaolin is washed out in suspension, the resulting slurry flows to the bottom of the pit where it is pumped to the surface to be processed.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.1: When the Clay bearing rock has been exposed the clay is washed from the surrounding rocks by high pressure hoses called Monitors.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.2: The operator for the monitor is safe in the hut for his protection. The water pressure coming out of that nozzle is enough to cut a man in half.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.3: The power of the water was tremendous, rocks were being thrown all around.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.4: Basically the Monitor is a high pressure water nozzle. This water is aimed at the clay seam, washing the clay from the granite. Due to high pressures the hut needed to withstand flying debris, hence the installed blast screens and toughened windscreens.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.5: The huts were vacated during blasting operations but their structures were sometimes subjected to impact from flying rocks
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.6: The sun kept popping in and out, this is my favourite images of the Monitor Hut.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.7: It’s a 24 hour mining operation. In the foreground is a generator connected to portable floodlights.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.8: A digger was also on standby, to remove the clay bearing material and take it to a primary screening plant. Here the rock is crushed and washed with high pressure water prior to processing.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.9: A detailed image of the monitor in action, the power of water.
There was a Articulated Dump truck which was being filled by the digger. The truck which was a Bell B50D could carry up to 50 tons of material in one load. At over 35 foot long it can still travel at over 30 mph.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.10: The loader is a Liebherr 586 which are used widely by Imerys.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.11: The loader bucket can hold up to 5.5 cubic metres of material.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.12: A loaded bucket being tipped into the dumper truck.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.13: A closer image of the dumper being loaded.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.14: The fully laden loader heading off to dump its load.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.15: A detailed image of the cab of the Bell B50D.
Littlejohns China Clay Pit 2.16: A second image of the cab with the floodlights and monitor in the background.
The final set of images on the page are of a Mobile Drilling unit at work in Littlejohns Pit. It is drilling prior to a blast to remove the rock above the Clay bearing material. The vehicle is a Tamrock Gator (Blasthole) Quarry Drilling Rig. This was one of five crawlers that were operated in the Clay Pits by Saxton Drilling.
The driver of the rig is thought to be Keith Morcombe.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.17: The mobile drilling rig in action.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.18: It must have been quite powerful as the holes were drilled in very quick succession.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.19: The drilling on this hole complete. The rig then moves on in a predefined pattern to drill the next.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.20: The drill was encased in a vacuum unit which kept the dust from the drilling to a minimum.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.21: Without the caterpillar tracks the machine would have been bogged down in the deep mud.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.22: The cliff behind the drilling rig gives an idea of how deep the Clay bearing material can be.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.23: A close image of the hole being drilled.
Littlejohn’s China Clay Pit 2.24: A final view of the drilling rig, I was lucky to see it in action. Sadly I did not get the chance to witness a blast.
An amazing place with it’s own environment, a great place for pictures. I hope to arrange another trip if I can.
China Clay Pits Gallery