Today I got underground again, and because of the novel I'm working on, it was important to see if the memories I had were accurate. Stu Cunningham met me in the security office and soon I was in the 'Dry' getting changed into mining clothes and hauling my backpack and street shoes up into the warm breezes which dry mining clothes all day long.
The Dry - many fewer buckets than in the 70's
The cage was smaller than I remembered and travelled more slowly. In my memories it almost did a free-fall downward and slammed around a lot more. That probably was the case, as so much about safety and the permanence of the place has been improved.
Stu Cunningham on the Mine Cat - a noisy diesel monster which travels maybe 3 KPH
The cage & in the cage.
Stu Cunningham brought me to 4000 level and together with another shift-boss, Mike Vallance, we rode a Mine Cat down declines to 4550 level. Mike showed how they are using newer methods of mining to extract the ore. Down here the cut and fill methods are not used. I spent a couple of hours there, and then returned to the levels the way I remembered them. An excellent day for good information. Many thanks to Stu & Mike, and also Don and Joyce Belson, (Keith's parents) who have been very helpful. Don worked his way from being an ordinary miner to being in top management and he knows the mine very well. He answered a lot of my technical questions and is good at explaining things to amateurs.