|Mining Operations at Mount Mica & Orchard Pit Mines, Oxford County, Maine.|
Coromoto Minerals Mining
Operations at Mount Mica,
15cm smoky quartz with crystallized pink quartz 'crown' from pocket 2 of 2007.
After a seemingly endless winter, by mid-March we were opening up Mount Mica. The first task was to extract our de-watering hoses from the deep freeze. Due to neglect, they had become locked, like some wooly mammoth, in more than a foot of ice. Their extraction took the better part of two days. Mining demerits we harshly and appropriately meted out. Notes were recorded to file. So much for the dirty linen.
Once the ice had been moved back out of the travel ways and the low part of the workings pumped out, we were ready to get down to business. The first of which was necessary and overdue infra-structure improvements. Item one of this program was to widen the entrance to the drift, driven last year. With this complete our small excavator could more easily pass under the low hanging ceiling at the mouth of the drift. Next we extended the 1" iron air line up to the top of the drift. This saved us the laborious and aggravating task of dragging our rubber air hoses up and down the drift each time we drilled. After this we ran the mine de-watering line to the outside sump hole via 2" plastic pipe attached high along the wall. We also installed an electric pump in the deepest part of the mine to both de-water and supply water to our drill for dust suppression. Before the 2" line was added,we had 'lay flat' hose snaked along our travel way. It seemed constantly to be in the wrong spot. Laying flat and in the way resulted in ever increasing punctures. Walking along this hose required one to dodge the icy spray spewing from the many holes. Shower free de-watering was now being done at the flip of a switch instead of the use of a our 2" gasoline pump. We also installed a 2 hp electric pump in the sump hole outside. This reservoir too could be drained by simply switching on the pump. Finally, we moved the main electrical panel from the entrance of the mine to central location greatly shortening the power cable runs to the various light strings and pumps. The mine now was fully protected via GFCI ( ground vault circuit interrupters) increasing our margin of safety from electrical hazards. So with all of these near state of the art improvements, we were ready to get down to the business of digging.
As described in the last update from '06, we were trying to understand the significance of the large feldspar masses we had encountered. Many of these masses exhibited stripes very similar to the one we had found just above Pocket 21-06 of September '06, our first pink crystallized quartz producer. It has been suggested that the stripes are a result of lepidolite taken up in the feldspar though these stripes have yet to be analyzed. Once these large spars appeared, all of the pockets seemed to be intimately associated with them. So with this clue, we decided to work out a few of these masses near pockets 22 and 23 of last year. What intrigued us about these particular spaces was water trickled from them continuously. This water must be channeling from other nearby spaces. In the image to the right, Richard stands beside pockets 22 and 23 of last year. Note the massive spars near these pockets.
We decided to first mine to the left to see if we could open a space that might prove to be the source of this trickle. This effort showed us that pocket 23 consisted of a number of increasingly smaller spaces. After some work, we did open pocket 1 of 2007 about 2m from 23. It was a void created at the intersection of two large microclines. Though it contained quartz crystals and tourmaline, none of the quartz was pink or the tourmaline gemmy. The tourmaline in fact was quite fractured and of a dark green color.
With this advance completed, we next burned east. Once this burn was complete, we would be able to work across a wide area without having to do another burn. The burn is costly in both time and explosives. Massive feldspars were also prevalent in this direction. We carved out the initial advance at a level we felt would allow us to easily work the mineralized zone in our quest for the next pocket. What we did not bargain for was the dramatic drop in the level of this zone. In order to reach the descending mineralization, we had to drop the floor not once but twice. As we did so, we intercepted a large mass of lepidolite. Large masses of lepidolite are an indication of concentration in pocket forming minerals yet rarely is there a space of any value immediately adjacent to these masses. If there is a pocket, often the contents have undergone extensive alteration. Working across the eastern face exposed more lepidolite and the occasional altered spodumene. By the time we had worked our way across the eastern face, we were encouraged by the enriched mineralization but we had not yet found the 'goods'. Progress was slowing as the volume of rock we had to move increased greatly as the pocket zone plunged. Now the ceiling was a good 6 meters above the floor.
By late April we were again doing another burn eastward. With each burn, we also turned the working face more to the right giving us a better look at the down dip side. Once the burn was completed and we finally reached the pocket zone, our luck began to improve. We began drilling into soft spots that produced bright orange drill cuttings. This meant we were near something. On May 2 we drilled into a space proper. Probing we drilled into it twice more. Using our blowpipe, we were able to blow out small quartz crystals and tourmaline. We could move larger crystals that were two big to come out the holes. Unfortunately this space appeared to drop well into the floor. This required us to again lower the floor. This time we only carved out a section we believed to be well in front of the pocket. We were almost correct. Unbeknownst to us we had been standing for some time over a substantial part of this pocket. Much of it was now laid out like a freshly gutted chicken. That was the bad news. The good news was much of the pocket was still intact. After a month of solitude and no finds, as fate would have it, almost from the moment the smoke cleared we received a near continuous string of visitors. Richard's attitude as a host is clearly visible in his expression above.
One of the very first pieces to be retrieved from the pocket, MMP2-07, was the large smoky quartz depicted at the top of the page( the top is shown at the left). Richard found it and exclaimed, 'Pink quartz!'. I was unbelieving until I held in my hands. The ring of pink was clearly visible even under the rust. Despite our efforts at lowering the floor, the pocket still descended beneath our feet. Once our guests departed we started working the pocket in earnest. Working on our hands and knees, we emptied the first small chamber. This led to another we could just reach into but not actually see inside. Water that drained from somewhere back inside the face required continuous pumping.
Richard and I took turns laying down in the water and reaching as far into the 2nd chamber as we could manage. Digging with only our finger tips , we could feel crystals embedded in the mud. Many of these turned out to be gorgeous smoky quartz plates with pink quartz overgrowths. When it came my turn again to dig by Braille, reaching far in I felt an irregular shape. By swirling the water with my hand I was able to loosen this unseen object from the mud. When I finally got it out, we were shocked to see that it was a cluster or fine quartz crystals many of which were bright pink. I guess our only complaint was that it was not attached ,Van Allen Belt style, to the smoky at the top of the page. Maybe Van Allen II was still in there. Continuing to probe the mud, I could feel a larger piece. It felt like it was another tabular crystal. When I finally freed it from the sticky mud, I could not get it out through the small hole that led into this chamber. Using our air driven chipping hammer we were able to enlarge the hole. Finally it was free. To the right, Richard holds the pink quartz tombstone.