Due to the nature of the Mine there are many big drop offs all over mostly hidden behind large dust curtains or big piles of boulders and dust and is nothing more short than a massive labyrinth of paths going in circles and dead ends with the odd dotted up and down main runways to different levels leaving the explorer who is unfamiliar of this place to easily get lost.
All but a few pieces of Mining machinery have been removed with only a few nice pieces left if you look hard enough and don't run out of time. The Mine is in good condition but if you go far enough there is places old enough to see flakes and decay fallen all around with fault lines and lead veins going through the roof and down the walls and black dust every where giving a possible indication of a fire and/or blast dust lightly covering in all directions with white foot prints from where you came from.This Mine is known for having background Radiation (Radon Gas) and other parts where as you breath you can smell and taste the Limestone dust hanging heavy in the air adding to the many hazards which you can encounter which of the worst must be Oh bugger where are we and did we not pass this about an hour ago !.
The Mining was controlled by leaving large pillars of Limestone in place which are around 17 mtrs square from floor to ceiling which is any where from 10 to 17 mtrs high.
In the mine is said to be a lake which is beautiful in color shape and size or so we are led to believe !. Perhaps one day we might be lucky enough to find this lake .
The Lime stone in this Mine is a very high grade which has been used all around the world by sculptors for statues and in manufacturing Rubber/Plastics/Glass/Asphalt/Vinyl/Fertilizers and even in toothpaste Etc,The Mine is dug into the Bee Low Limestone bed which is below a layer of Volcanic Lava which is why most of the Mine is dry as the Lava is impenetrable apart from the natural faults giving some minor leaks.
There are five stages to the production of the Mining of this Limestone :-
1 Scaling.....where rock is either manually or mechanically removed.
2 Drilling by large machinery into the face of the Limestone to a depth of around 4.7 mtrs deep in a wedge shaped pattern.
3 Blasting which is after the drilling stage then using Ammonium Nitrate
as the main explosive, several faces are drilled, packed with charge and blown at the end of the day (for safety reasons) which move the face forwards in a region of 4 to 4.6 mtrs forwards.
4 Loading the product onto the wagons 30+ tonne dump trucks which convey to an underground crushing plant well away from the faces worked on where the Limestone is crushed and screened into its different sizes for different products.
5 Crushed and screened rock creates product for the surface plant of the Middleton Mine and then transported to top side for further processing and drying.
Middleton Mine's limestone produce is between 15o microns to 125mm in dimensions.
First at the back of the mine where it all began.
A blocked adit.
The underground boiler.
Remains of a blast hole.
Road to nowhere !.
Yet another blocked adit.where is the enterance.....
Within the mine.
Jars of samples taken from around the mine ready for the lab.
Core samples for the lab.
Light at the end of the tunnel.
Clay wrapped in blue plastic used for back fill of
the drilled holes for BANG !!!.
A nice looking machine for back filling the blast holes.
A lonely fuel tank and pump.
Keep still were hunting vibrations.
I opend this and boy was that a bad idea !.
Blocked adit yet again.
The first aid room.
A look down into where the crusher stood.
Wooden troughs some form of mixer.
Mixer shaft and scrap left to decay.
The green lake
Hmmmmm is it rabbit season.....NO ! then what are these doing down here.
Three way split.
A DTI.(Dial test indicator) checking for movement in the roof.
Mining machinery cutting marks.
Into the stores.
The road is long.
Dot to dots anyone.
Conveyor going out and emergency exit.
Front yard of the mine.
I think we took a wrong turning 4 miles back or was it 6 ?.
here we go again..........
5 trips at 9 hours long each trip and another 2 trips of 6 hours long each
and still theres more from her to be given !.
I have found the way past the big collaps I just need some more time
for the pictures of the lost digger down there and the final passages.
This explore continues.