Mining Operations at Mount Mica & Orchard Pit Mines, Oxford County, Maine.

Coromoto Minerals Mining Operations at Mount Mica, December, 2004
First Quartz group
The first quartz group from pocket MMP28-04

The trip to Europe, though fruitful from a business standpoint, was an unwanted diversion. We had our fingers crossed that winter would not give short shrift to our plans and hopes during this aside. Finally, by December 6, we were back at work. The first order of business was to pump the pit then de-ice it by pushing the ice plates off into the southwestern corner of our pit. This spot, the location of pockets 7 and 11, was the lowest and served as both a spot for ice and a sump for the continuous flow of water that oozed steadily into the pit.

Our last shot had been the in back of our adit and on the right hand side. Since we suspected that our pocket might be further in and possibly off into the right side wall we decided to yet again make an advance. This time we were even more careful that the burn go in well above the mineralized area. It would be horrific to come back after a heavily loaded burn shot to find that the explosive force had been applied not to pegmatite of little interest but had vented in a pocket and shattered its contents. Once or twice over the years  we have had episodes where the results of the blast produced a pile of crushed glass. This material is the remnants of quartz crystals, which shatter easily. The burn and subsequent widening operation proved uneventful though. Now we had a 6-foot deep cut 3 feet high and 8 feet wide over the area of what we hoped was a major pocket. By the 4th day of preparation and mining after my return, we were ready to try to get into the pocket. We drilled several 4-foot holes in the area where we presumed the pocket to be. This drilling did not breach a cavity, which was somewhat surprising and a little worrisome. Both Richard and I had anticipated that the jackleg would drive the drill into a pocket. The jackleg is essentially pressurized telescoping set of cylinders that pushes the hammer laterally and allows one to drill horizontally into the working face. Intersecting a free space with an effective 200-400 pounds of push would make the apparatus charge ahead  rapidly. One would not want to be in front the hammer under these circumstances.

Now, with the holes drilled, we loaded and shot two of them. With anticipation mixed with trepidation, we returned to see the results of this small blast. Strewn out on the floor of the adit was quite a bit of lepidolite, some mica books, the usual quartz and feldspar, and a few spodumene fragments. MMP28-04 BreachedWhat wasn't there was a dark area marking the portal of a cavity. In hopes of finding it with hand tools, we got busy with hammers and chisels. After and hour or so, even though we had found a few small vugs, we had not found the hoped for cavity. We could, using our fingers, tease out crumbly material on the far right bottom of our freshly blasted area. Frustration and worry was building. Was the accumulated water we had so carefully measured the last time simply surface water leaking through the many cracks in the overburden and pegmatite? For a moment or two we sat there dejectedly discussing whether or not we had managed to dupe ourselves. This period of deflation was reminiscent of the end of the last advance, where in a final desperate burst of hammering we opened the water flow. We decided to continue to chisel and pound on the lower right wall. Almost as if the pegmatite had decided that it had toyed with us long enough, the tone of the hammer blows on our chisels shifted from a high pitched metallic ring to a duller more hallow sound. Like the sound one hears when your back is thumped. Richard and I, being somewhat old hands at this by now, merely glanced up knowingly at each other and traded the tools back an forth as each of us became tired hammering stooped over on our knees. The hallow sound became even lower pitched and finally one of the hammer blows, rather than recoiling back, broke into a space. The hole this strike  had opened was only a couple of inches in diameter. Each of us in turn pressed our cheek down on the adit floor and tried to peer into the space. We could see nothing other than darkness. I then asked Richard to pass me the pocket pry bar. Threading it into the hole, it went unimpeded up to the handle. As I waved it around in the pocket a clack clack sound came out and I could move unseen lumpy objects around. We were finally in pocket 28! With the tension broken, we both started to slowly laugh, the laughter building in intensity to a point where someone who may have come onto the scene at this point would wonder whether we were certifiable or possibly suffering from ‘bad air’.  ( In the image above Richard shines a light on MMP28-04)

Of course our next move was to widen the hole so that we could see inside. In a few minutes the entrance had been widened to 12 inches or so. Now we could see. One of first things we saw was a large parallel growth smoky quartz crystal sitting on top of a heap of pocket material. Our hole was just large enough to induce the pocket to give birth to this crystal. Once we got it out, though it was rust covered, we could see elbaites with black caps attached to its side.  The pocket walls were studded with large quartz crystals. A cookeite sand covered the floor. Embedded in this sand was hundreds of fragments of elbaite. Most were colorless or pale pink. There were many terminations too. These were either green pyramidals or black basals.    
another view
Working in. A hoe handle provides scale
First Look
A large quartz group
Another view
A view of the the back.
Starting to exlpore
Richard and Frank Perham in front of the pocket


A collection of elbaite from the 2nd day
Some of the early material from pocket 28

We spent several days emptying the chamber we had opened.  Its dimensions eventually expanded to 2 meters in length by 1 meter in depth. Once the pocket was close to be worked out, we began to look for additional chambers. As we explored it in the downip direction and removed some quartz crystals we opened another chamber  that at first appeared to be quite small. Once we had removed some of the roof, our opinion changed radically.  We were able to  insert our 8 foot loading pole nearly all the way. This chamber would eventually be dubbed the passageway.
Loading pole
Passage way
In the images above the loading pole can be seen next to the hoe. In the right-hand image we were able to insert the pole nearly all the way. The upper chamber is visible on the right. This pocket was indeed not worked out.

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