Mining Dictionary

Mining Dictionary of Terms

Mining has given rise to potentially hundreds of terms for processes, techniques and equipment, many of these terms vary by region or were specific to the type of mine.
A
Abutment
In coal mining, (1) the weight of the rocks above a narrow roadway is transferred to the solid coal along the sides, which act as abutments of the arch of strata spanning the roadway; and (2) the weight of the rocks over a longwall face is transferred to the front abutment, that is, the solid coal ahead of the face and the back abutment, that is, the settled packs behind the face.
Acid mine water
Mine water that contains free sulphuric acid, mainly due to the weathering of iron pyrites.
Active workings
Any place in a mine where miners are normally required to work or travel and which are ventilated and inspected regularly.
Adit
A nearly horizontal passage from the surface by which a mine is entered and dewatered.
Advance
Mining in the same direction, or order of sequence; first mining as distinguished from retreat.
Adventurer
Old name for a shareholder, as working the mine was considered an adventure.
Agglomeration
A family of processes which can be used to concentrate valuable minerals (including coal) based on their adhesive properties.
Air leg
Telescopic cylindrical prop expanded by compressed air, used to support a rock drill and control drilling rate.
Air split
The division of a current of air into two or more parts.
Airshaft
Also known as a “Smokehole” a shaft driven to the surface purely for ventilation purposes
Airway
Any passage through which air is carried. Also known as an air course.
Alluvial tin
Tin found in the alluvium of a river valley. It was washed by the action of water from the surface outcrop of tin lodes into the nearest river valley over millenia.
Alluvium
Debris including rock, sand and clay deposited in a river valley
Anemometer
Instrument for measuring air velocity.
Angle Bob
A simple lever-based device using which the direction of a reciprocal motion (of pump rods, flat rods) could be changed (for example from horizontal to vertical)
Angle of dip
The angle at which strata or mineral deposits are inclined to the horizontal plane.
Angle of draw
In coal mine subsidence, this angle is assumed to bisect the angle between the vertical and the angle of repose of the material and is 20° for flat seams. For dipping seams, the angle of break increases, being 35.8° from the vertical for a 40° dip. The main break occurs over the seam at an angle from the vertical equal to half the dip.
Angle of repose
The maximum angle from horizontal at which a given material will rest on a given surface without sliding or rolling.
Anker
Small barrel.
Anthracite coal
Of the four types of coal, anthracite is the hardest and contains the highest heat value. It is almost pure carbon and is used mainly for home heating and cooking. In some developing countries, it is also used for industrial purposes.
Anticline
An upward fold or arch of rock strata
Anvil
A hard stone on which large stones are broken.
Aquifer
A water-bearing bed of porous rock, often sandstone.
Arching
Fracture processes around a mine opening, leading to stabilization by an arching effect.
Arsenic Flu
As the name suggests a flu that is elongated (see also “Labyrinth”) as a means of obtaining Arsenic soot from calcined ore that can be sold as a byproduct.
Arsenopyrite
An important arsenic ore. Also kmo as mispickel or mundip – chemical composition iron- arsenic sulphide.
Ashlar
Square-cut smoothly dressed building stone.
Assay hatch
Exploration pit dug to search for lode outcrop. If the crop was found the hatch became an access shaft.
Assay House
The mine laboratory, where samples or ore were analysed for their mineral content
Assaying
Method used to determine the metal content of the ore.
Attal
Refuse parts of workings.
Auger
A rotary drill that uses a screw device to penetrate, break, and then transport the drilled material (coal).
B
Back
The roof or upper part in any underground mining cavity.
Backfilling
When old mine working (worked out stopes and chambers) are re-filled with waste rock, to save it being removed from the mine. This can also be used as roof supporting, false floors, and walling to keep back underground tips stc…
Bailiff
The man responsible for the day-to-day running of a stannary district. He was answerable to The Steward of the stannary.
Bait
Miners lunch.
Bal
A word used since medieval times for a group of tin bounds. Thought to be related to the Cornish word pal, or a shovel, hence digging. By the 18th century referred to a mine.
Bal maid
Term used for female mine surface workers who were engaged in copper and tin dressing.
Balance Bob
A large counterweighted lever attached to the shaft pump rods and used to offset their weight and thus reduce the work of a pumping engine to lifting water alone. A surface balance bob would be mounted adjacent to the shaft on a pair of plinths or on a masonry support at ground level (balance bob mounting), the attached counterweight – a large box filled with scrap iron or rocks – working in an adjacent stone-lined pit. Other balance bobs would be installed in chambers cut into the rock adjacent to the shaft wall as needed to counterbalance the weight of the pump rods, especially on a deep shaft.
Ball Mill
Cylindrical rotating mill in which ore was crushed into finer material by the use of metal balls in water.
Banded veins
Veins made up of layers of different materials parallel to the walls.
Banjo
Leicestershire coal miners name for the large shovel used to load coal from the coal face onto the conveyor.
Barite (Barytes)
Barium sulphate (BaSO4). Used as a heavy additive in oil-well-drilling mud, in the paper and rubber industries, as a filler or extender in cloth, ink, and plastics products and in radiography.
Barracks
Building where miners lived through the working week.
Barren
Said of rock or vein material containing no minerals of value, and of strata without coal, or containing coal in seams too thin to be workable.
Baryte
Barium sulphate.
Bate
The line of cleavage in a slate block
Beam work
An east Cornwall word for an openwork, where the load was worked from surface as a trench. See Coffin.
Bedding
The characteristic of a sedimentary rock that results from the layering of individual grains and reflecting the sedimentation process when the rock was laid down. Strong bedding will result in a rock that cleaves well in only one direction, such as flagstones.
Beneficiation
The practice of processing ore (usually by crushing and density separating in water or air) to improve the ore grade to the point at which it can be smelted.
Beu-heyl
Live stream; rich for tin.
Binder
Timber man.
Bing
In Central Scotland, the term for the spoil heap of a mine, esp. W Lothian oil shale mines. Also pit bing and coal bing.
Bing
A measurement of weight applied to mined material. Approx 400kg
Bingstead
Storage bay for dressed lead ore
Bitting On
Notts. mining term for impending roof collapse.See also Godsend
Black jack
Sphalerite, Zinc sulphide, an ore of zinc.
Black Tin
Tin ore washed and cleaned for smelting.
Blondin
A wire rope, supported by wooden towers, where a system of pulleys would raise, move and lower rock.
Blowing-house
A building containing a tin-smelting furnace. From art least the 13th century Cornish blowing-houses had a water-wheel which powered the bellows used to increase the heat of the furnace. From the end of the 17th century they were gradually replaced by reverberatory furnaces.
Bog
The action of removing mullock or ore after firing a face. Eg: hand-bog
Bogger
A mechanical shoveller used in removing mullock or ore after firing.
A term used by miners in Victoria Australia.
Borer
Old name for drill steel.
Boring machine
A 19th-century name for a compressed air-powered rock drill.
Bothy
A rudimentary hostel for miners at a mine site esp. at distant or isolated mines. Also where mineworks ate.
Bound
The area in which tinners worked. Its boundaries or bounds were marked by piles of turfs which were renewed every year when the bounds were re-registered at an itinerant stannary court. Tin bounds almost always had names and the tinners’ names were registered upon payment of a small fee.
Bouse
Lead ore straight from the mine
Bouse Team
A building or container for storing mined material
Bowk.
A large iron barrel used when sinking a shaft. (see also, kibble)
Bowl furnace
Early furnaces of simple construction for smelting tin and other metals. The furnace consisted of a pit dug in the ground covered by a domed, stone-built structure. It was lined with clay, had a small tuyere or opening to receive a draft and an opening in the top to allow smoke and fumes to escape. The tin concentrate (cassiterite, or black tin) was placed in the furnace with charcoal and heated to a high temperature by means of a draft or hand-operated bellows.
Bucking
The breaking down of copper ore on an anvil to about 10mm in diameter by bal-maids using small hammers, after which the ore was separated from the waste by hand. This process followed cobbing, in which it had been broken down to about 25mm in diameter, the waste again being hand removed. These processes, through which the majority of the highest quality copper ore was recovered, took place within roofed structures called bucking houses.
Buddle
Circular pit where ore is seperated from waste rock.
Buddle-work.
The treatment of finely ground tin-bearing sands by gentle sluicing, in which a heavier fraction of the fed pulp is built up (buddled) while the lighter fraction flows to discard. This is continued until a satisfactory concentrate is produced.
Burning House
Construction with a furnace for burning off unwanted arsenides and sulphides. Used from at least the 16th century, particularly as more load matrerial was being processed.
Butty
The name given to a close working pal and used commonly in the Welsh and Forest of Dean mines – he is my butty
C
Caban
A small shelter built by the miners usually used as a place of rest and lunch. Built from waste rock.
Cage
Modern conveyance for carrying men up and down a shaft. Originally referred to the drum carrying the rope of the hoisting gear.
Calamine
An ore of zinc. It was used with copper to produce brass, and its presence in the mendips close to the early 18th century Bristol brass foundries helped to establish the brass industry there.
Calciner
Furnace for roasting ore to remove arsenides and sulphides. William Brunton’s and other 19th century calciners were also designed to remove arsenic to be sold.
Calcite
Calcium carbonate (CaCO3), a common gangue mineral found associated with ore minerals. Calcite is the principal component of limestones, marble and other calcareous sedimentary rocks.
Calish
Sedimentary rock.
Call
In the cost-book system of mine management it was frquently necessary to ask adventurers for money to keep the mine going. The amount asked for depended on the number of shares the adventurer owned. The demand for this money was knwn as a ‘call’.
Caple
A stone somewhat similar to limestone which comprises the walls of most lodes.
Capstan
Winch for hoisting heavy gear up and down the shaft.
Carbonas
Irregular offshoots of minerals from lodes.
Cassiterite
Tin dioxide (SnO2), an ore of tin. Used to coat so-called “tin” cans, since tin does not oxidize (rust) in air or water. Also used for alloys such as bronze/pewter and in electrical applications as mainly low-melting-point solders.
Caunter
When two lodes intersect, one is said to be caunter to the other diagonal lode.
Chalcopyrite
Copper iron sulphide (CuFeS2), an ore of copper. Used in electric cables and wires, switches, plumbing, heating, roofing and building construction, chemical and pharmaceutical machinery, alloys (brass & bronze), alloy castings, electroplated protective coatings etc.
Chalk well
A single shaft mine for chalk with a small number of chambers dug out horizontally from the base. Largely post-medieval. Sometimes referred to as deneholes. The chalk was nearly always dug as fertiliser.
Chamber
Slightly larger than a stope; an area of ore or rock, which has been developed enough that the stope or flat (in the case of ore mining) becomes a chamber. Most slate mines are worked using chambers, as are many limestone mines, depending on how much good quality vein material there is.
Churn
A chamber, local phrase used in the forest of Dean.
Chute
Timber or steel structure for facilitating the loading of wagons underground. Usually erected in short ‘box-hole’ raises beneath stopes. ‘Cousin Jacks’ was the name given to a widely used design of chute as colonials saw them as typically Cornish.
Clack
Non-return valve in the rising main of a typical Cornish pitwork. So called because of the sound it made when closing as the pump rod paused and the weight of water closed the valve.
Clog
A lump of slate taken from the quarry face
Clogh
Clogh (meaning stone or rock) is a former mining village in Kilkenny,Ireland.
Closehead
The Cumbrian name given to an underground slate mine.
Coffin
Old Cornish word for an open work, where the lode has been worked from the surface as a trench.
Coffin/Roman Level
Ancient levels sometimes dating back to the Romans. They are the shape of a coffin so that no more effort was used than was neccessary in driving a level that was just large enough to fit one miner. They display early pick marks and some can be extremely narrow.
Collar
The area around the top of a shaft, usually dressed in stone or timber.
Combed Ore
Veins made up of layers of different materials parallel to the walls.
Concentrate
Dressed ore ready for smelting
Conglomerate
Consolidated gravel, pebbles , and boulders in a cementing fine-grained matrix.
Contortion
Crumbling and twisting of stratified rocks.
Core
Division of time, shift. Usually 8 hours, with three cores per day. If work is difficult with water or bad air, four or six hours were usual.
Costean
Shallow pit to trace or find tin.
Count House
House or room on mine where adventurers transact their business.
Country Rock
The rock containing the load fissue.
Courses of Ore
Deposits of ore having small vertical but considerable lateral extent.
Creazes
Work of dressing tin in middle part of the buddle.
Creeper
A short endless chain in a fixed race, usually electrically driven (Ocassionally air driven). Always situated on a bend and used to bring tubs and minecars safely round a corner without leaving the track.
Crop
Ore of tin dressed and cleaned for smelting. Finest black tin. Average value of ratio 1 : 2 of white tin; second quality called Rows-ratio 3 : 10.
Cross cut
Access tunnel driven to cut a lode
Cross-Course
A fault crossing a mineral vein, often terminating or displacing the vein.
Crystallisation
Assumption by matter of a definate geometrical form.
D
Day
Mining term meaning ‘Surface’ or ‘Outside’
Day Level
A level driven directly from the surface
Dead ground
Ground without mineral values.
Dead Men
Miners working on jobs that did not produce ore. Examples include Level driving and Walling
Deads
Waste rock stacked in the roof or walls
Decking
An unlikely and painful event caused by descending off the bottom of your SRT rope.
Deerpark Mine
Coalmine in Castlecomer,which closed in 1969
Denehole
A single shaft mine for chalk with horizontal chambers dug from the base. Usually much better executed than chalk wells. Mostly older than chalk wells dating from medieval times.
Derrick
A sexton, digger or miner.
Dib
North Pennine term for an inclined drift (or decline) . See also rill
Dint/Dinting
Breaking up and removing the floor of a roadway to gain more height.
Dip
The angle of inclination of beds or strata measured in relation to a horizontal line.
Dippa
A pit or hole sunk in the lode to collect water to be drawn out by small barrels; also a pit sunk in a bunch of ore.
Dipple
An main inclined underground slope or roadway, commonly used in the Forest of Dean coal and iron ore fields
Dislocation
The displacement of rocks on either side if a fissue-a fault.
Dol
Any part or share of the adventure of tin ore. A meadow divided into shares was called a dol meadow.
Dolly tub
A hand-operated gravity separation device for dressing ore.
Dowsing
The determination of vein location from the surface using a forked twig or pendulum
Dreg
Brake: “You could stop a moving tub by spoking its wheels with a ‘dreg'”
Dresser
A person who superintends the boys at a stamping mill, or men, boys and girls in the copper bal commonly called pickers, cobbers and jiggers. The man who directs the various manuductions and lotions of ore for sale.
Dressing
Separating ore from waste rock and gangue minerals
Drift
The entrance tunnel to a mine, though unlike adits drifs are always inclined. Many coal and hematite mines are drifs, as well as some slate mines, namely ones on the velley floor. Many mines also have internal drifs – driven downwards in the vein, as well as drift-coss-cuts.
Drumhouse
Structure built to support the winding mechanism at the head of an incline.
Dun-mywn
A hill of minerals.
Dyke
A vertical or highly dipping injected sheet of eruptive origin. Igneous rock injected into fissues of older rocks; it is more or less vertical and wall-like.
E
Eluvial
Ore lying on or near the surface downslope from the lode outcrop. Not alluvium.
Engine shaft
Shaft dug and fitted with pumping equipment.
F
False floor
A hard to identify wooden floor spanning a stope or a shaft – a common danger in metal mines.
Fathom
Standard mining unit of distance. Approximately 6 feet.
Fault
A fracture of strata, accompanied by displacement of the rock on one or both sides of the fracture.
Firedamp
Alternative term for a build up of methane.
fire-setting
old mining method used to weaken veins and rocks by building a fire against a working face and then quenching with water. Described by Pliny the Elder in 77 AD and Agricola in De Re Metallica in 16th century.
Firestone.
A stone or rock capable of withstanding a considerable amount of heat without injury. The term has been used in reference to certain Cretaceous and Jurassic sandstones employed in the manufacture of glass furnaces.
Fissure lode
A lode in what was once a fissure, opened by earth movement.
Fissures
Open cracks.
Flat Rods
Reciprocating rods used to transfer power from a steam-engine or water-wheel to a remote location.
Flats
Horizontal vein working
Floran
Small grained tin. Scarcely perceivable in stone, but very rich. Any tin stamped exceedingly fine is called floran tin (flower tin)
Fluorspar (fluorite)
Fluorspar (fluorite) is calcium fluoride (CaF2). It is used in the production of hydrofluoric acid (HF) and aluminum fluoride (AlF3) and as a flux in making steel, glass, enamel, and other products.
Foge
Forge or blowing-house for smelting tin.
Foot
An ancient measure for black tin-2 gallons; now a nominal measure, but in weight-60lb.
Footrid
Ironbridge/Broseley area term for an adit.
Footwall
The lower side or boundary of a lode.
Freestone
A good quality building stone that was capable of being cut in any direction. Stones with prominent bedding planes are less likely to be good freestones.
G
Gale
Forest of Dean term to describe the mine as a whole, used in the same way as the more widespread “Sett”.
Galena
Lead sulphide, an ore of lead.
Galloway
A pack horse.
Gamboreen
Used to describe a wooden beam attached to a shaft winding rope. From it descended 4 chains which were attached to the pit cage or sometimes directly to the 4 corners of a pit cart. Gamboreen described the whole attachment system. Used in the Forest of Dean
Gangue
Minerals of no economic importance found together with ore minerals.
Gate
A general term for a roadway, ie: “Maingate” (Intake air) and “Tail gate” (Return air)
Gin
A horse powered winding device for raising material up a shaft
Ginging
Stone lining to a shaft.
Goaf
The waste or caved area behind an advancing or retreating coal face. Sometimes called waste or “The Gob”
Gob
Stone quarry waste – small stones, dust and chippings. Term in use in Surrey.
Gobbins
Waste area left to collapse behind advancing coal face supports
Godsend
A warning of impending roof or wall collapse for example creaking timbers or trickles of gravel
Goughty
The name given to very acidic rust coloured water leaching out from a coal seam. Caused by the decay of iron pyrites attached to the coal by the acid in the water. (pronouced ghow-tee)
Grizzly
Steel girders forming a mesh over an underground ore pass where ore is effectively sized. Pieces which are too big must be broken by hammer or explosive to allow them to pass through the steel mesh.
Grouan
Rough pebbles.
Guag
Emptiness. Tinners working in a place which has been wrought before call it “holeing in guag”‘
Gulph
Large quantities of ore which continue in depth.
Gunnies
Breadth or width. Single gunnies are 3 feet wide. Former vaults or cavities dug in any mine are termed “the old gunnies”.
H
Hade
Inclination of the lode or fault to the vertical. Sometimes the fissue splits around a particularly stubborn piece of country rock so that the vein or lode splits into two streams. In this case the central piece of rock is known as a ‘horse’ or ‘rider’.
Hanging Death
Large lumps of rock (usually in the roof) waiting to give the mine explorer a really bad day!
Hanging Wall
The rock on the upper side of a vein or ore deposit
Headframe
The tall construction set over a winding shaft which carried the sheave wheels over which the winding ropes ran
Hearthstone
A stone mined for use as a mineral pigment to coat stone doorsteps, widow sills and hearths. In fashion from the early 19th century until the mid 20th. Hearthstone was sold as lumps of raw material, or crushed to powder and sold in sprinkler cans. Also moulded with cement to make artificial hearthstones. The best known mines operated in East Surrey and worked the Upper Greensand.
Hematite
Iron oxide (Fe2O3), a principal ore of iron, also known as kidney ore due to it’s shape & appearance.
Hodding
A method of moving coal or iron ore in thin seams usually carried out by a young boy pulling a box on sled runners (a hod) by means of a leather strap attached by both ends on the front of the hod. A slit was made in the middle of the loop of the strap and the boy put his head through the slit and the strap rested on his shoulders when pulling the hod along. Used in the Forest of Dean coal and iron mines
Horse
See “Rider”
Hotching
A method of separating ore from waste by repeatedly sieving up and down in a hotching tub
Hundt
A type of sledge used by miners in Germany for drawing the ore out from drift mines. The term was brought to this country by the German miners used by Queen Elizabeth in the 16th century
Hushing
Hushing is the practice of creating a dam in a small valley, filling it with water, then releasing this torrent of water which washes away the topsoil and thus exposing the vein. In this respect it can be considered as a process of vein location rather than an extractive process.
hydraulic mining
generic term used to describe methods employing large volumes of water to assist removal of overburden and extraction of ore; includes methods such as hushing (qv) and hydraulicing; widely used in the Roman period and during most gold rushes
hydraulicing
Method of hydraulic mining used extensively by Romans and later miners to prospect for ore veins and extract ores, especially gold, tin and lead-silver. Used widely in the Californian gold rush.
Hydrothermal
A mineral deposit where the economically important minerals have precipitated from a hydrothermal (hot water) solution.
I
Inbye
The word inbye is usually known in coalminers’ jargon as an adverb of direction meaning “toward the coal face”
Incline-balanced
Parallel tracks where the weight of loaded wagons descending pulled empty wagons back to the top
Incline-chain
Device running on chain or wire rope instead of rails
Incline-mass balanced
Single track with iron weight (see Mochyn) running between the rails to balance weight of descending load.
Incline-powered
Device where powered drum was used to haul loads upwards.
Incline-table
Wagons are carried on a moving table rather than the rails themselves.
J
Jackroll
Also known as a “Windlass”. A hand turned machine for raising material up a shaft or rise.
Jangalies
Common term used to describe srt gear.
jem crow
device for putting curves in track rails used in Lancs coalmines probably a local name
Jig
A piece of milling equipment used to concentrate ore on a screen submerged in water, either by the reciprocating motion of the screen or by the pulsation of water through it
Jim crow
See jem crow for explanation. Expression used in but not just common to the Forest of Dean
jocky boy
a lad who led a horse pulling a journey of carts underground. used in the Forest of Dean coal and iron ore mines
Judd
Coal/stone ready to be brought down: “the cutting of the judd”
Jumper
Hand held drilling bar of varying length
Jwmpah
Long weighted rod used to manually bore a hole. Used before the advent of compressed air drills.
K
Kibble
Large bucket for raising ore
L
Labirynth
A (usually) stone built construction to slow the smoke when tin or copper ore is calcined in areas where arsenic is present. Slowing the passage of air allows the arsenic to ‘condense’ on the walls as ‘arsenic soot’ which was collected to be sold as a by product. (Also see “Arsenic Flu”).
Leaching
A chemical process for the extraction of valuable minerals from ore
Leat
Surface channel for conveying water
Level
Horizontal tunnel driven for access or drainage
Lobby
The excavated cutting running up to an adit portal
Lode
Ore bearing vein
M
Maddock
A single pointed narrow pick of considerable weight. The head contained a rectangular slot for the handle which was held in place by a large wedge. Term recorded in the late 19th century in Surrey.
Magazine
Small strongly built store containing explosives
Malachite
Copper carbonate (Cu2CO3(OH)2), an ore of copper.
Manchester Gate
Swing open/close girder formed gate used to arrest runaway or prevent runaway coal mine vehicles
Mine.
1. Suterraniaan excavation made in connection with exloitation of, or search for, minerals of economic interest.
The terms quarry, pit and opencast are reserved for workings open to daylight.
2. Term (N. England) for any coal seem irrespective of grade or thickness.
minepit
Term used in Surrey, Sussex and Kent (the Weald) to describe shallow shaft excavations for iron ore. The iron ore was called ‘mine’.
Mochyn
The iron weighted balancing trolley of a mass balanced incline.
N
Nappling
Large lumps of coal left over after screening. (Lancashire area term)
Nellie
A forest of Dean expression – a ball of clay in which a candle was placed in the top. A forked stick was then placed in the side and the other end was held in the side of the iron ore miner’s mouth. Another stick was placed in the bottom and this approx sat on the miner’s shoulder. This gave the light to the side and did not glare into the miners’s eyes when using
Nesh
A Forest of Dean expression used to describe a seam of soft, friable coal
O
Ochre.
1. Naturally occuring red, yellow and brown iron oxides, or clays strongly coloured by iron oxides (limonite), formed by residual weathering and used as pigments.
2. Highly coloured alteration products from other metals, eg chrome ochre. Also, see umber.
Old Man
A previous generation of miners.
The term can also be used to refer to earlier generations workings.
Old Men’s Workings / Danes’ Works (Ireland)
Visible remains of mining activity from antiquity, with uncertain historical evidence of their period.
Open stope / open cast
A stope coming to the surface.
Ore Pass
A small shaft or a partitioned section in a larger shaft used purely for dropping ore down to a lower level
Ore Shoot
Workable area within a vein or lode
Ore slide / ore bin
A semi-circle stone bowl with an enterance at the bottom for undressed ore.
outbye
The word outbye is usually known as coalminers’ jargon as an adverb of direction meaning “away from the coal face”.
Outcrop
Location of a mineral vein at the surface
Overburden
The topsoil and subsoil removed in the process of opening or extending a quarry or mine.
P
Pack wall
Waste rock stacked at side of a level to form a wall
Parcel
An amount of dressed ore ready for selling.
Pelton Wheel
A small enclosed water turbine, working at high pressure and rotational speeds
Pig
An ingot of metal cast at the smelter.
Pillar
Area of rock left undisturbed to support the roof. Timbers can also be used for this
Pit.
1. A place where minerals are dug.
2. The shaft of a mine. The pit eye is the bottom, whence daylight is visible; the pit frame is the superstructure carrying poppet head and sheaves. The pit head is the surface landing gear.
Please
A word often missed following a respectful request for help!
Plug and Feathers
A tool consisting of two half round, tapered, short bars and a wedge. The two bars are inserted into a pre-drilled hole and then the wedge is hammered down between them, splitting the rock. Along with fire-setting, this was a common method of level driving before the introduction of gunpowder
Portal
A mine entrance
Pyrite (Fools Gold)
Iron sulphide (FeS2), a common gangue mineral found associated with ore minerals.
Q
Quadrant cutter
A ‘bar’ cutting machine similar to a ‘radial percussive coal-cutter’. A heavy machine usually mounted on a tram, which ran on rails. When in use the machine would be held in place by a column tightened between the roof and the floor. The Quadrant cutter was capable of cutting vertically as well as horizontally. Originally hand operated, later versions were driven by compressed air or electricity.
Quarry.
1. An open working or pit for granite, building stone, slate or other rock.
2. An underground working in a coal mine for stone to fill the goaf.
The distinction, in law, between a quarry and mine can be somewhat blurred. Usage implies surface workings open to the sky.
Quartz
Silicon dioxide, or silica (SiO2), a common gangue mineral found associated with ore minerals.
R
Retreat
The opposite of advance (Roadways mine out from pit bottom) Retreat is where roadways are driven first and a coal face retreats back generally towards pit bottom.
Rider
A barren section in the middle of a split vein. Also known as a “Horse”
Rill
Same as a dib (decline) except driven from the bottom upward. (North Pennine term)
Rip/Ripping
Removing the stone and dirt above the coal in a roadway after the coal is cut in order to extend a roadway. Arch or squre girders are set to form and support the roadway.
Rise
Underground shaft driven upwards.
Rive
Splitting of slate
Romming
Usually clay material used to pack and seal an explosive charge into a shot hole. Maybe a local corruption of “ramming”. Used in the Forest of Dean mines and quarries
Royalty
An area of land determined by the lease or a percentage payment demanded by the owner for the weight of mineral sold
Run In
When the roof or sides of an level collapse.
S
Sap
The moisture content of a building stone fresh from the quarry. Stone was often stacked in seasoning sheds to allow the sap to dry out.
Scappling
A rough dressing process normally done withing the quarry, using a pick or axe-like tool. Scappling produces a roughly squared block suitable for fine dressing by stone masons.
scotch
steel rod used to stop coal trucks running away on inclines
Scowles
Forest of Dean term for the deep linear gouges left in the ground when a lode has been followed from the surface. Recent research has indicated scowles may date back over 2000 years.
Screw
Length of chewing tobacco
Sett
Area of a mining lease.
Sett
The area of land indicated by a lease on which the miners gain access to the workings.
Shammeling
A Cornish term for lifting ore from a mine to surface by an arrangement of ‘steps’ of men who shoveled ore from floor height to head height.Naturally this technique was used in small, relatively shallow workings. At greater depth it was worth the expense of conventional lifting gear.
Sheave
A groved pulley wheel
Shothole
Hole bored into rock for the insertion of gunpowder
Sinc
A Welsh name given to a pit quarry (normally slate), Depending on region. Also known as Twlls.
Sinkers
Miners who dug shafts
Slickenside
A rock surface that has become more or less polished and striated by slippage along a fault plane.
Slimes
The fine slurry from the mill that is created in the crushing process.
Slipe
The junction between slate and non-slate rock
Sole
The floor of a level.
Sough
(Pronounced “suff”). A passage or adit driven from the lowest point of a valley, horizontally into a hillside to dewater mines, often discharging into a stream or river. Larger soughs were sometimes used as pumpways
Spelter
Zinc. See “Black Jack”
Sphalerite
Zinc sulfide (ZnS), an ore of zinc. Used as protective coating on steel, as die casting, as an alloying metal with copper to make brass, and as chemical compounds in rubber and paints.
Spoil
Area of waste rock
sprag
A short length of wood or steel inserted in between the spokes of a truck or cart wheel to stop the wheel turning to stop or slow down the cart down an incline. Common expression in the Forest of Dean coal and iron ore field. Also used to describe a length of timber which was set at an angle against an undercut coal seam in order to prevent it breaking off the face prematurely and injuring the collier
SRT
Single Rope Technique, a means of descending and ascending mineshafts and voids, can be used above and below ground.
stack timber
lenths of scrap timber usually 2×2 stacked in box formation then filled with waste material and left as roof support
Stemming
The noncombustible material used on top or in front of a charge or explosive
Stemple
A timber beam wedged into a shaft or stope for use as a climbing aid or to provide support to the walls
Stocking of Clay
Term used in the Ironbridge/Coalbrookdale/Broseley area for a clay-mine adit.
Stook
In reducing pillars of coal/stone, the last bit left supporting the roof is the stook.
Stope
A worked out area of ore, often considered to be more or less vertical. These were often “Backfilled” (see backfilled) – and had flase floors built across them to access other parts of the mine.
Stringer
A very narrow vein.
Stulm
An adit; a small draining-shaft.
Origin unknown. Cf. German, stollen.
Sump
A development of the vein in the floor of the tunnel, also used to drain water.
T
Tailings
The waste sand and slime from a mine dressing floor, not containing workable quantities of mineral
Tips
Rock extracted from the mine usually piled down the hillside under an adit, shaft, or level.
Top Slicing
The process of mining iron ore at a horizontal level (slice), then allowing the ground above to collapse into the slice, and then mining out another slice at a lower level.
Tramp Iron
General term for anythin metal which is redundant and has been left in an underground roadway.
Trial
An exploratory adit dug for the vain but not always successful
Trunc
The table of a trunc incline
Tutwork
A system of payment whereby groups of miners contracted to work on a “payment by results” system at previously-agreed rates, usually for shaft sinking or driving levels
Twll
An open surface quarry.
U
Umber.
Naturally occuring brown iron and manganese oxides, or clays strongly coloured by oxides, formed by residual weathering and valued as a pigment. Raw umber has a greenish tinge; burnt umber that has been calcined is dark brown.
Undercut.
A section at the base of the coalseam which has been cut away by hand or machine to make it easier to bring down the main body of coal by hand or by using explosives.
Upcast
The ventilation shaft that carries the foul air away from the workings.
V
Variometer
Instrument for measuring magnetic declination in mine surveys.
Velocipede
Railway “cart” either hand or pedal operated, used largely on the Padarn railway before the advent of workmen’s trains. Fatalities were not unknown on these machines, a restored example can be seen at the national slate mining museum, Llanberis
Vent or Vent hole.
A small hole made with a ‘pricker’ through the ‘stemming’ in a ‘shothole’, which the ‘squib’ travels along to ignite the main charge.
Ventilation Door
Door fixed across a level to direct flow of air for ventilation
W
Waterwheel
Wheel fitted with buckets or paddles around its periphery, and driven by the weight or force of a stream of water directed onto them
Wheelpit
A structure built to house a water-wheel, often excavated and stone-lined, but sometimes free-standing
Whim
Winding engine powered by horse, steam or water
whip
A devise used for raising stone from a shaft that would otherwise be too deep or heavy to raise via a windlass.
Wibby
Used to describe the portion of a coal seam where it is pinched thinner up against the roof by the thickening of the fireclay floor. Used in the Forest of Dean
Windlass
A winding device operated by two men on top of a shaft / winze. A round wooden wheel with rope around to wind ore, a handle at both axle ends.
Winze
Underground shaft driven downwards (see sump)
Wolframite
Iron-manganese tungstate (Fe,Mn)WO4), an ore of Tungsten. Used in metalworking, construction and electrical machinery/equipment, in transportation equipment, as filament in lightbulbs, as a carbide in drilling equipment, in heat and radiation shielding, textile dyes, enamels, paints, and for coloring glass.
X
Xenon
A noble gas used in photographic equipment (mainly flashes) used by mine explorers.
Y
Yankee bonnet.
A canvas bonnet with metal lamp-holder used before the introduction of the safety helmet. (Scots.)
Yell
To make a loud noise, something that is frowned upon in mine exploration circles, as sudden loud noises underground may cause rockfalls and other disasters.
Z
Zighyr
A small stream underground.
Zipline
Something that is uniquely found on the legendary Croesor to Rhoysdd through trip
Zone
A cross section of the strata, including coalseams, which contains a high proportion of ‘gas’ or water. A ‘zone’ containing a large amount of ‘firedamp’ would be a ‘fiery-zone’, and if it were heavily inundated with water, it would be a ‘water-zone’
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