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Thread: I don't get how mines work

  1. #1
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    Question I don't get how mines work

    I've never really understood how mines work.

    How were the long vertical shafts dug, using machinery?

    How did they bypass the water table and were able to dig below it? Wouldn't it just fill in with water if they kept trying to get further than it?
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  2. #2
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    Andrgo,
    From what I've read, you're not the only one who doesn't understand how mines work. There were a lot of people killed throughout mining history because they didn't either. I guess it's not as simple as digging a hole and reaping the rewards. In the early days, picks, shovels and sweat along with some hopefully well-placed TNT was the favored method. Of course technology today makes the process a bit easier, although it's still got to be one of the hardest ways to earn a living there is.
    As far a the water tables go, once they hit water, pumping began, hopefully displacing more water than would be flowing into the excavation. There's a large old copper mine near where I live called The Old Dominion. When they struck major water at about the 12th level they were only able to pump water out for a few more levels before the water pressure was too much for their pumps to handle. When the mine closed, the water was sold to the City of Globe as their main source of water for quite a few years.
    If you search this forum, you'll see pictures of mines with headframes. The headframes were basically just pulleys used to load ore and tailings out of vertical mine shafts. A tedious process when the only equipment available to some miners was a mule tethered to the end of a rope with a bucket on the other end.
    One of my favorite topics is mining, it amazes me to see the resourcefulness and ingenuity of man.

    Here's a link to a site that gives some good mining method explanations.



    By the way, that's a nice site you've got going on MN GTs.
    Last edited by LauraA; 02-12-2007 at 01:52 PM.

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    As Laura said, pumps were used to pump water out when water tables were exposed. sometimes a small Horizontal shaft was dug as an off shoot to divert the water in to a holding area where the pumps were placed, or in some situations pipes would be placed at a certain level in the holding areas and the water would flow through the pipes and out the side of the mountains hundreds of feet below the headframe. very interesting how early miners even came up with some of the plans to address these problems as well as many others that arose during their underground excursions!
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    Or they built something like the Sutro Tunnel in Virginia City Nevada......
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  5. #5
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    Uh, TNT ? That didn't come along until the 20th Century.
    In the beginning,blackpowder was used.
    When dynamite was invented,this was the main explosive used for many years.
    It has a more shattering effect,than blackpowder.
    Now 2 compositions are used.
    Still, in some areas, I gather,dynamite is still used.
    Hope this helps.

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    1863
    Wilbrand invents Trinitrotoluene (TNT).

    1864
    Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel develops first detonating blasting cap.

    History of Explosives and Blasting

    You're right




  7. #7
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    Sorry for not touching base here for a while. Thank you folks for the information, it makes much more sense to me now. One of these days I'm going to visit the Croft Mine Historical Park, it's a local mine in the Minnesota Cuyuna Iron Range. I believe you can take tours and go down in the mine, I think it would be cool to see it in person. Thanks Laura for the compliment on my website.
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    - The Ghost Towns of Minnesota.

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    andrgo, You're welcome! It's good to see you back with us. I hope others will check out your site as well. ForgottenMN.com You've done a fantastic job, it's loaded with great information and maps. I see you've recently updated your site, GREAT!

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