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Technological advancements have allowed old mines to be given new life | News, Sports, Jobs

By on July 16, 2022 0

The period of the late 19th and early 20th century was marked, of course, by growing tensions between labor and mine management, as we have discussed. But this same period is also marked by technological advances which make it possible to revisit old abandoned mines, with techniques much more economical than digging a shaft, opening galleries and hoping to find a copper vein. The new technology was the diamond drill.

Roger Burt, University of Exeter, Emeritus, in his 25-page publication, “The History of Diamond Drilling: The Origins of Diamond Drilling in the 1860s to the End of the 19th Century”, describes the exercise in understandable terms:

“The drill consisted of a hollow rotating casing, or pipe, crowned with a mounting bit of eight black diamonds,” Burt wrote. “Water was pumped into the borehole to remove dust from the ground while a core of rock was captured inside the pipe, to be removed periodically. All in all, it had taken the perception the commercial acumen of a practical engineer, the intellectual acumen of a classical mechanical genius, and the practical skills of a working craftsman to deliver a new drill totally different from all other mechanical machines. development course.

Rodolphe Leschot, a French railroad engineer, born in Switzerland to a long-established family of watchmakers and educated at the Ecole Centrale de Paris, is credited with inventing the drill, Burt says. He patented the drill in the United States in 1863. By 1880, diamond drilling had become commonplace in most parts of the United States.

Exercise had several benefits. First, it eliminated capital outlays for contract and salary expenses necessary to explore a property and trench a promising length of a potential mineral vein. It also eliminated the risk of financing wells on a location that might turn out to be worthless, and just as importantly, it saved time. The cylindrical core samples obtained from the hollow bits could be quickly examined and analyzed by an experienced geologist within hours or days, rather than several months of waiting for an exploratory mine to start producing rock samples.

Beginning in the 1890s, diamond drilling became common practice at mining sites in the Lake Superior copper region. Using Ontonagon County as an example, we can begin to see the impact of diamond drilling by providing the opportunity to revisit old abandoned mine sites to find that they contained, in many cases, commercial quantities of copper after all.

The 1911 Copper Handbook records that on the Ontonagon Copper Range, the Adventure Consolidated Mining Company was organized on November 1, 1898, absorbing the former independent Hilton (Ohio), Knowlton and Adventure Mines into one company. According to the Copper Handbook, production at the old mines was suspended in 1908, but diamond drilling located three beds of ore, called Adventure Lodes Nos. 1, 2, and 3. The second lode was believed to be the more promising. Located about 300 feet below vein No. 1, averaging about 30 feet thick.

On May 6, 1909, shaft No. 5 was started, which was vertical, and a large steam winch was erected.

One of the most promising ventures was the King Philip Copper Company, organized in November 1905 and located about a mile south of the Winona Copper Company mine in Houghton County. King Philip owned just over 1,000 acres in Houghton and Ontonagon counties. In 1910, the King Philip operated from two shafts and worked on 11 air drills. The King Philip was a modern installation, using an electric hoist. The company’s housing consisted of approximately 40 six-room quarters, with electric lighting, as well as a 24-by-62-foot dormitory and a large kitchen.

Among the newly consolidated companies in the Ontonagon area was the Mass Consolidated Mining Company, which included the interests of five former mining companies. Organized in 1899, Mass Consolidated included the former mining companies Ridge, Mass, Ogima, Merrimac and Hazard. On all of these properties were seven separate and distinct copper veins, into each of which the consolidated mass had openings.

In addition to the surface plants, the Mass Consolidated also owned about 60 housing units for its employees, as well as the Mass City townsite, which was the terminus of the Mineral Range Railroad, but also had a station on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. Mass City also had several stores, hotels, and other businesses.

Another large company that organized in 1899 was the Michigan Copper Company which, including its factory on Keweenaw Bay, consisted of 6,686 acres of land.

The Michigan company included the old Minnesota, Rockland and Superior mines, through which passed no less than 11 separate copper veins. In 1909 the company produced just under two million pounds of refined copper.

The Victoria Copper Company, another company organized in 1899, employed in 1910 about 225 men.

There were other businesses operating in Ontonagon County in 1910, including the South Lake Company as well as several smaller businesses. All of these companies had used diamond drilling to determine mining risk.

The State of Michigan Geological Survey and Biological Survey, Publication 13, for 1912 and earlier years, stated that in 1912 the Onondaga Mining Company operated two drills on its properties north of Lake Gogebic in Ontonagon. The society was organized that year on 11,000 acres.

The report also stated that “the method of prospecting in copper country in almost all cases (is) diamond drilling and trenching.”

Carefully studied outcrops have yet to be explored, the report says, including large areas covered in glacial debris.

“The most remarkable new discoveries of recent years”, the report said, “were made by drilling into such covered areas.”

The 1912 report noted that the White Pine Copper Company, under the direction of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, was exploring the Nonesuch vein where, in previous years, 31,206 feet of diamond drilling had taken place.

The report stated that when drilling the first drill hole in an exploration campaign in drifted areas, it is common practice to set the drill rig at an angle normal to the dip (of the copper vein) such that determined on neighboring properties.

“If the hole turns out to be approximately normal to the bedding,” the report explained, “other holes are drilled at such distances that each will give a slight overlap on the section obtained in the next one. Most holes are drilled from 1,000′ to 2,000′. the most satisfactory results are often obtained by vertical holes.

The fired cores were closely examined for copper; and also with the aim of correlating the different cut strata. Commonly, all cores were kept regularly stored in boxes. At intervals in the core box, a mark was made to indicate the depth from which the core had been taken. After examination, the cores were usually stored and kept for future reference. Many such core sample boxes can still be found today at former mining sites.

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