September 21, 2020 

Clips from Alleghany


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10/30/2006  7:31PM

California’s oldest weekly newspaper makes its home in Downieville, the county seat of Sierra County. Each week on the back page is a slice of history, sometimes 100 years ago, sometimes less. Last week carried a story from the Saturday October 27, 1906 edition. The headline in big bold print said, “$100,000 In Three Blasts.”

Scoop knows that $100,000 in 1906 was about 5,000 ounces (gold sold for $20.67 an ounce). Here’s is the short article:

“The above is the latest record for the Tightner mines in Alleghany in the southern part of the county. The above amount was taken out last Tuesday. We would like to hear from other sections of the world for a better record.”

Well, there is no record challenging this production. On December 17, 1993, the greatest recorded single day production of 2,500 ounces was blasted from the 1330 stope of the Sixteen to One for a record amount of $1,000,000 (gold spot was $450 an ounce).

10/11/2006  11:31AM

MSHA arrived for its quarterly inspection yesterday. Still inspecting today. More gold was sacked and brought to headquarters on Monday and Tuesday from the last round. After the blast, the vein material spread over an area about 600 square feet, so it takes time to locate and gather the high-grade gold. The other lower heading in the same ore zone showed some worthwhile color yesterday. Patience with this target is paying off. Two headings in gold always boost morale. As the physical size of promising vein diminishes, its future relevance as coughing up huge is shortened. Scoop believes that as rounds continue, the chances for a multi thousand ounce day diminishes; Ian and Mike may not see it that way, but no one ever knows until an area is abandoned.

09/28/2006  8:33AM

Zero citations from the recent OSHA inspection.

Most of the crew is in a first aid class this morning.

A little gold came up yesterday. Nothing to brag about but nobody is complaining either.

Mike and Ian are at the Empire Mine today. The job is almost done.

Cool nights and warm afternoons. Lovely fall weather. A little rain would be welcome to knock down the fire danger.

09/22/2006  7:22AM

Water has been the big issue for the operation. We know the 58 hp pump grounded out, hauled it to the surface from the 1500 foot level and transported it to a repair shop for servicing ($5,550). Although a costly surprise, the major issue has been an ongoing loss of water to the underground. Miners use water in their drilling process to both clean out the holes and keep the drill dust at a minimum. Without water, they cannot drill and progress stops.

Parts of the complex water transfer system are over sixty years old. The rest is about twenty-three years old and has been repaired many many times. Water is flowing again but not without untimely delays in production. Instead of mining, the crew could be seen dragging hundreds of feet of poly pipe up and down the steep terrain and under the main roads of town. The Company owns the water rights of the “Ram Springs” since 1919. Water is an asset that does not show up on its balance sheet.

09/14/2006  8:30PM

The Company developed a method of accounting its production fourteen years ago. Gold (high-grade, which is sacked and sealed with custom numbered tags at the face) is in an ore form or in a quartz matrix. The sacks from the day’s rounds, sometimes numbering in the teens, are brought to the office, where they are weighed and inventoried as gross pounds. Usually, David or Mike will examine one or more of the sacks to “estimate” the ounces of gold at .999 fine, which is also part of the daily inventory. This takes some mental calculations, which has become routine. The first estimate grades the ounces per pound according to how it looks and feels. Doesn’t sound too scientific, but this crew is pretty sharp as further analysis develops. The next calculation takes that estimate and transforms it from the natural 83 to 86 percent “gold” found at the Sixteen to One mine to .999 fine, which is the fineness that is quoted daily as “spot”. Now a dollar figure can be reckoned.

The miners usually make an estimate at the face, as they bag the quartz and gold. Ian is particularly good at this (he always is optimistic but will understated the amount as a precaution). David has another sophisticated tool at his disposal, the old Archimedes discovery about specific gravity in his bath tub). Weigh it dry, weigh it wet and calculate the disparity of the specific gravity. Because there may be other metal in the ore that has a higher specific gravity than quartz but a lower specific gravity than gold (19.3) another estimate must be made to predict just how much .999 gold came from the mine that day. Aren’t you glad you asked, Dick?

It is not over yet. How did 24 pounds get to five or so ounces and eventually to $7500? Slab is sold per ounce at the gross weight of the quartz and gold. The ore changes as it proceeds through its evolution to become a gem stone in the rarest and most precious gem stone mined in the world. Some turns to saw dust and some will be melted to pour dore bars.

The quality of the quartz is more of a factor in establishing a market price than the gold. This subject of quality and determining its market price will wait for another day to explain. The ore that was mined this week is in the $1000 to $1400 per ounce range. Thus, the market value of the recent production is estimated at $7500 to $10, 000. Hope this answers your question.

09/14/2006  1:43PM

Unfortunately the miners did not have gold in the face when they blasted and the material was blown up. We will get some small slabs out of it.
Gold content 5 ounces.
 By dickdavis

09/14/2006  12:22AM

I'm puzzled. 24 pounds, $7500? is that right?

09/13/2006  11:59AM

Gold. Yesterday’s production weighted in at 24 pounds gross. By orders the crew is drilling and blasting to recover large pieces of quartz. This high-grade came from the left rib of a wing raise. About fifteen feet of virgin quartz vein remains before work will break into an open level. Gold appears possible because a good gold showing exists at both sides of the small remaining target. The slab revenue estimate is $7500.

The 58-horse power pump died over the weekend. One leg went to ground. The pump was removed from the mine and transported to an electrical motor repair shop in Auburn. No word on the damages, but this same pump was rebuilt recently at a cost of $5,000.

The ATF inspection went well with no violations.

09/07/2006  4:04PM

Already two weeks since the last "Clip". A safety meeting was held at the mine site this morning. The crew is larger than its been in awhile numbering eleven.

The mine phones need constant attention as the harsh environment of the mine reeks havoc on anything electronic. The entire crew spends time assuring that thier phones do work. There is a phone at each heading and at various stations, the outside shops and even the Corporate Office. This is one of the most essential safety devices for the miners. Being able to communicate with each other and the outside world and visa versa is paramount to safety.

Gold from the rib on the 950 has been sparse. A little still remains and is being approached from below with a new heading. We have two active headings at this time. One was muckbound yesterday but should be ready for blasting tomorrow.

ATF is expected on Monday for an annual inspection of the powder magazines.

PG&E contractors require constant access to the minesite so they can inspect and re-inspect their poles. Seems putting the lines underground might save them a lot of money in the long run.

Missy the office cat looks pathetic. We never did find out what was wrong with her. The vet said it is most likely some form of cancer. WE are giving her food that she tolerates and keeping her comfy but that is about all we can do for her.

Yellow Dog had been keeping the other stray cats away which is a good thing for Missy.

The apples are getting ripe. Where did the summer go???

08/24/2006  8:05AM

The miners are through with extending their headings past the gold along the ribs or the projected paths based on actual gold finds above and below their workplaces. In other words the block of vein is sufficiently exposed to attack the most probable areas of gold.

In the past the company would set about to stope favorable or suspected blocks. Labor was much cheaper and most of the quartz was sent to the mill. The mill had two different functions. It produced gold in a saleable form, and it was a tool for exploration. Many times the mill foreman was alerted to a pocket that the miners missed, ignored or hoped to steal later. Lloyd Smith was mill foreman in the 1930’s. He told how sometimes the mill would clog up because of unexpected high grade. The mill had to shut down to clean the equipment so normal recovery could take place. Lloyd would call Dick Bennett or whoever was in charge, so word would get back to the underground miners. The mill men hated when heavy gold would interrupt the flow (probably woke them up on the night shift). Lloyd would say, “Get them miners to sack that high grade stuff and keep it out of my mill rock!”

Since 1992, the Sixteen to One miners have wondered what the old timers would think if they saw the metal detectors. Metal detectors have dramatically changed the company’s approach to milling as well as exploration, development and production.

Sacks of high grade were inventoried the past two days. No signs of relief or big smiles so it is probably not significant. Nevertheless any sack is better than no sacks. Ian has enough information now to feel comfortable in attacking the gold. Mike told him to go get it. It was December 17, 1993 when the crew drilled, blasted and sacked 2500 ounces in one shift. With today’s demand for quartz and gold that amount could gross $3 million or more. Wish them luck and good fortune in this current mining target. If you are so inclined, offer up a prayer or two. The success of finding gold at the Sixteen spreads to many people as well as the local communities.
 By Crush

08/22/2006  8:55PM

I been gone for some time, but Ill bet it still fun goin to the face. The reading says gold. Is it?

08/17/2006  7:11PM

Three rounds yesterday. Two round today. Expecting three rounds tomorrow. Gold anytime or maybe never. But… the ground still looks like pay day country.

Alleghany Days scheduled for Saturday. New rocks have been hauled to Main Street for the drilling contest and muck has been dumped nearby. Tents are going up and the weed eaters have been humming.

Many of the miners have chosen to attend the celebration of life for Warren Johnson. If you know nothing about his sad death, check the NEWS section of the site.

08/11/2006  9:58AM

This is a very sad day for the entire crew. Last night on his way home one of our young miners, Warren Johnson veered into the opposite lane on a curve near North San Juan and hit a box truck. He was flown out in a helicopter but did not make it. We are mourning the death of a good man. He was only 19 years old. Warren had a sense of humor beyond his years. His work ethic was impeccable. He had a great enthusiasm for learning to be a miner.

The crew went home. Nobody can think straight.

Our deepest sympathy is with his family and best friend Matt who started work here the same day Warren did. Matt shares the same work ethic.

Warren you are greatly missed.

08/10/2006  9:55AM

At this very moment there is a mock medical emergency-taking place underground at the Sixteen. The crew does not know it is not a real emergency. A miner has broken his leg near the Tightner Shaft. Mine phones are used to bring the information up the chain of command. Ian is acting as an invisible person and is monitoring the evacuation of the injured miner.

After stabilizing the victim, a call is placed to the surface. Kyle at the office (or whomever is there) directs the next call for help. It could be an ambulance or a helicopter. Right now she is waiting to learn the severity and nature of the miners condition.

How many blue collar companies or operations have regular drills such as the ones that are performed on a regular basis in all the mines in America? This is one reason why the mining profession, while dangerous has such an exemplary safety record compared with other dangerous occupations.

08/03/2006  9:52PM

The pressure is on for getting slab to customers throughout the United States. That means: virgin gold from the heading is the goal. Yesterday’s round showed gold (tiny specks) in the right hand rib. Gold was showing in the left rib earlier. Knowing the pressure mounts each day to produce slab material the miners wanted to turn up dip on the gold. Ian knows the goal and chose to advance a couple of more rounds ahead. Go figure.

08/02/2006  2:33PM

Three young men have completed their forty-hour training required to begin an underground experience as a hard rock gold miner at the Sixteen to One. Over the years a large number of young men have begun their mining careers at the mine. If the work fits the personality, nothing inhibits a young man from ascending his role (and compensation) as a miner. Good luck fellows.

A little gold was brought to the office from yesterday’s round. The company has invested six weeks of tunneling under the gold that shows up dip. David and Mike want big pieces from the miners. The slab market is short supply. Maybe the crew will be all smiles in a week or so.

07/28/2006  11:20AM

MSHA stopped by this week for one of its unannounced quarterly inspections. Ian is pleased although he was issued five citations. None were serious or substantial. It has been a long going concern of the crew that minor oversights were cited as serious life threatening when just the opposite is true. Mike has taken issue with many of the citations because of this. One fire extinguisher was found to be outdated (there must be a hundred fire extinguishers at the mine). An electrical box in an out-of the-way place had no cover plate (this should not happen but it does.) The crew imagines a Cornish metal loving rat steals them but the inspector wasn’t buying it.

The crew is getting two rounds a shift in the headings. Spirits were down early this morning because the vein was pinching. Yesterday’s round in the wing raise (very flat) was mucked and the vein is widening. This wing raise runs under the known gold showings and is designed to open the area up for “raising” into the gold.

07/19/2006  12:56PM

Hot and humid in Alleghany but nothing like the valley.

As of Monday we have a crew underground! A small crew remains at the Empire Mine.

This morning a Mine Engineering Proffessor and two students from the University of Utah visited the minesite to do a safety survey. Tomorrow morning they will join the miners at our regular Safety Meeting and give a presentation of their findings. Sixteen to One volunteered to participate in the program which is funded by a grant from the Department of Labor(?).
Hope everybody is as cool as the underground.

07/06/2006  8:55AM

Most of the crew took Monday off for a long fourth of July weekend. And most of the crew is still at the Empire Mine. Word is they will be back by the end of next weeek.
A small crew is at the Sixteen to One getting things ready to start mining again.

The mine phone line to the Corporate office broke over the winter. Kevin got it repaired yesterday and it is working again. This allows direct communication between the Corporate office and the underground. Mine phones are located at each active heading and at various underground stations as well as the outside shop.

An OSHA inspector was here yesterday. He gave a few suggestions but as far as we know no citations were issued.

A first aid class for the crew has been scheduled for August 2nd. Ian Haley's hoistman physical is scheduled for July 11th. Fire extinguishers have been inspected as well as ground conditions, the second exit and the fan. This gives you an idea of some of the compliance issues that have to be taken care of on a regular basis.

The shareholder's meeting went well. 181 shareholders and guests attended. It was the hottest day of the year. Luckily the weather has cooled a bit since then.

Two file boxes of archives on the Gold Crown Mine which was purchased by the Sixteen to One last year arrived via UPS yesterday. Thanks Tony!
 By jfeagans

06/25/2006  7:29PM

This was the best stockholders meeting I have ever attended. My grandfather came to Alleghany in 1919 and worked many mines in the area including the 16to1. My father went through 8th grade in Alleghany and graduated from Nevada City high school with Joe Sbaffi who ran the Alleghany Supply after purchasing it form the Alpha. Both passed away last year. I had the privilege of touring the 16to1 when I was ten years old in 1963. I did not think it would be possible to show my son the same thing in 2006! Thank you.

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