January 21, 2018 

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How to Approach Thin Veins & Cost


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 By fredmcain

07/11/2017  10:09AM



Although I still haven't quite made it to California, we were in Colorado last week for a tour of the Mollie Kathleen Mine. It was beyond awesome. I had my first "cage ride". Over 1,000 feet down AND an underground train ride!

Our tour guide demonstrated a lot of mining techniques and how they work. In the beginning they mined with candles. Our guide turned out the lights and showed us how that worked. Pretty dim! It's a wonder that not more people got hurt than did.

He also showed us how they set charges and removed the muck. It was hard for me to believe that they could actually get a mucker in the cage so I asked him if there wasn't an adit portal somewhere. NOPE! Only one way outta there and everything we saw down there came down that way!

I saw a lot of abandoned rails lying in adjoining drifts. I wish I'd thought to ask if they might be for sale.

Another observation was that there was no water and no pumps even at that depth. Remember, the elevation here at the surface is nearly 9,000 feet. You have to watch not to move around too quickly at that altitude or you will get light-headed to say the least.

I recommend this tour. The Original 16 to One is still at the top of my list, though. Too bad it's so far from Indiana! :(

Fred M. Cain
 By fredmcain

05/11/2017  12:17PM


I found an interesting article that fits in with my sub-subject on this thread "Mines With Tracks". It's a few years old now but worth reading. I have said it before and will say it again: I do NOT understand the supposed huge advantage of trackless mining.

Here it goes:

"Rail cars have long held a close association with mining. In fact, when looking back at movies or cartoons where mining is represented, there’s likely a bunch of open-top mine rail cars somewhere in the picture.

With the development of trackless machinery, however, a decline in rail use for mining has created a small disconnect between the popular image of labyrinthine mines lined with rail cars and how mines are evolving in reality. Rail took a backseat as low, stubby, purpose-built mine utility vehicles became more commonplace.

According to some experts, however, that trend might soon be reversed. Talking to Mining Weekly, Attie Claassen, contract manager for the South African railway and civil engineering contractor Loning Hill Properites, expressed this opinion:

Underground rail networks used to transport mined materials may be poised for future growth, owing to the high cost of trackless machinery and other alternative transport methods.
This shift in perspective comes as a result of a better understanding of the expenses associated with using trackless machinery. While many mines in South Africa attempted to make a push to establish trackless mining in the resource-rich country, the issue of cost quickly became too much to overlook. This has led some mines to consider reverting to the proven technology of rail haulage.

According to Claassen, “a correctly installed rail system has been proven to far outweigh its initial capital investment, and is, therefore, ‘the way to go’”.

Added to the proven advantages of underground rail networks, advances to the design and manufacturing of different underground rail cars have made reverting back to rail even more desirable.

Despite a decline in popularity, manufacturers like Wabi Iron & Steel Corp. have kept up their rail haulage manufacturing and development processes. The improved rail car technology that has resulted competes favourably versus trackless machinery in terms of cost, reliability, productivity and durability.

As the advantages of rail haulage continue to make their way back into the spotlight, it’s likely that the prospect will keep looking golden for the tried and tested mine ore car."

Here is the URL but you will probably have to copy and paste it into your browser:

 By fredmcain

02/13/2017  9:41AM



I thought I’d do a post on the sub-heading of this thread on mines with tracks since it's been a while since we talked about that. To be honest, I have been kinda M.I.A. for the last 20 months or so.

As many of you know, many if not most underground mines have abandoned the use of rail vehicles in underground mining in favor of underground, rubber-tired "trucks".

I am still not sure I understand why. I understand that the rubber-tired vehicles are much more flexible. That makes sense to me. I also understand that the maintenance departments no longer have to be constantly ripping up and relaying track as veins and deposites change. Sure.

But the rubber-tired machines also demand much larger drifts and passageways. That would seem to me to largely overwhelm any cost savings from using them.

Could it be that trackless mining has simply become "the thing to do" causing companies to shy away from mining with rail? In spite of it all, there are still a few mines (like the 16-to-one) that continue to rely on rail.

I hope that continues.

-Fred M. Cain



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