Underground Mining Terminology
When you get involved in the mining community, it’s best to know the mining terms you will be seeing on a regular basis. This will save a lot of frustration and you’ll be able to properly communicate with your fellow mining enthusiasts. Here is a list of some of the more commonly used mining terms and definitions when talking about underground hard rock mines.
Underground mining terms most commonly used:
Adit – A level, horizontal drift or passage from the surface into a mine.
Collar – The point at which a shaft intersects the surface or underground haulage level.
Crosscut – A level tunnel driven across the mineral vein.
Drift – A horizontal tunnel driven along the mineral vein
Headframe – The structure sitting over the shaft that holds the cables, pulleys, and sheaves used to raise and lower the skip in the shaft.
Hoist – The equipment that lowers and raises everything up and down the shaft.
Level – The elevation of the workings below the shaft, ie. 3700 Level is 3700’ below the collar.
Mucking – The process of removing the muck from the face.
Ore Bin – A receptacle for ore awaiting treatment or shipment.
Raise – A vertical or inclined passageway driven between levels. Used as manways, ventilation passages, for support lines such as pipes and electrical lines, and as ore dumps for transporting ore to lower levels. Can be anywhere up to 300 feet in length.
Shaft – A vertical or inclined opening that starts on the surface and goes into the mine. The primary access to the various levels. May be up to 10,000 feet deep.
Stope – The area between two levels of the mine where mining occurs. Accessed through a raise, winze, crosscut, or drift.
Tailings or Tails – The waste rock that has been through the mill and had the valuable mineral removed.
Vein – The mineralized zone that is clearly separated from the host rock.
Winze – A shaft that begins underground and goes down from there. Does not go to the surface.
While these are some of the more frequently used terminology, there are hundreds more terms that you may come in contact with. Here are a couple of sites that may be helpful for the less used words.
Remember to stay safe when entering or working around any abandoned mine sites. For basic safety tips please read this article.
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