Glossary

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ADIT
Horizontal entrance into mine, sometimes called a day level, its main purpose being to drain water from the workings.
ALLUVIUM
A deposit of sand, mud, tin stone etc., formed by flowing water.
ANGLE BOB
See Turnbob.
ARCHIMEDEAN SCREW
See Auger.
ARSENIC
This term normally refers to oxide of arsenic and may be crude arsenic or arsenic soot (impure) or refined or white arsenic (99% pure As2O3).
ARSENIC ORE
See Mispickel.
AUGER or Archimedean Screw
Device For propelling thick slurry along or up a conduit.
BALANCE BOX
Counterpoise to take part of the weight ofthe pump rod in a shaft.
BALL MILL
Device for reducing ore to small particles.
BARYTES
Barium sulphate, BaSO4, principal barium ore.
BATTERY
Set of stamps which could comprise as few as two individual stamps to as many as 64 or more.
BEAM
See Rocker Bob.
BEAM PUMP
See Cornish Pump.
BIN
See Ore Bin.
BLACK TIN
Oxide of tin, SnO2, the end product of the orc-dressing processes in a tin mine.
BOB
See Rocker Bob.
BOILER
Usually either Cornish (horizontal with single fire tube extending along its length) or Lancashire (two parallel fire tubes side by side).
BOTTLE FURNACE
A small shaft furnace similar to a limekiln, used for arsenic burning in the early days of the industry. Such a furnace existed at Devon Great Consols but is something of an enigma as it was built as recently as 1924 and its flue leads directly into the main flue to the stack without going through the arsenic-condensing chambers.
BRIDGE
Low partition between fire and hearth in reverberatory furnace.
BRIDGE RAILS
Tramroad rails whose section resembled an inverted letter U with exaggerated outer serifs.
BRUNTON CALCINER
See Calciner.
BUDDLE
Simple circular and square buddles used for seperating tin ore from waste. In a circular concave buddle the pulped ore was fed in at the circumference and flowed inwards towards the centre.
BURNING HOUSE
Old term for building where ore was calcined or “burnt”. See also under Calciner.
CAGE or Skip
Box-like container which could be raised or lowered in shaft to convey men, ore, etc. Usually ran in guides termed cage (or skip) roads.
CALCINER
A furnace in which ore was roasted either to drive off unwanted constituents or to sublimate them for separate recovery or to render the ore more amenable to subsequent processes. Could be an ordinary reverberatory furnace or a Brunton calciner. The latter type had a slowly revolving circular bed played on by flames from peripheral furnaces. Ore was fed onto the centre and automatically raked towards the circumference as calcining proceeded until it fell into a cooling chamber below. Other varieties existed. See also Bottle Furnace.
CALIFORNIAN STAMPS
See Stamps.
CAPTAIN
Mine superintendent or manager.
CASSITERITE
Tin dioxide, SnO2, the principal tin ore.
CHAMBERS
See Condensing Chambers.
CHIMMING
Final stage in the concentrating of tin ore.
CLASSIFIER
Device for sizing very small ore-particles in which pulped ore was fed into the top of a downward-pointing cone against an upward-flowing current of water, fine particles being carried up and overflowing from the top of the cone, coarser particles overcoming the current and falling to the bottom where they could be drawn off through a spigot.
COLLAR
See Shaft Collar.
CONCENTRATE
Ore which has been freed of waste.
CONCENTRATING TABLE or Shaking Table
Usually a rectangular table about 16 feet long and 6 feet Wide given a special vibrating motion which caused particles on it to progress along its length while a stream of water tended to wash them across the table. But along its length were many low parallel strips or riffles of diminishing heights over which the lighter material was washed while the heavier particles stayed between the riffles to reach the end of the table. Many varieties existed under various trade names - Wilfley, James, Record etc.
CONDENSING CHAMBERS
A labyrinth of connecting compartments in a flue in which arsenical vapour was condensed into either crude or refined arsenic.
“CONSOLS”
Abbreviation of “Consolidated” and a common suffix to mine names, intended to inspire confidence in prospective investors.
COPPER ORE
Many varieties exist but the most common locally was Copper Pyrites, a sulphide of copper and iron, CuFeS2.
COPPER PRECIPITATING
Achieved by leading copper-impregnated mine water over scrap iron on which metallic copper was deposited for subsequent recovery.

CO

CORNISH ENGINE
Typically a single-cylinder steam engine with its piston rod pointing upwards and connected to one end of a pivotted beam, the other end of which could be connected to pump rods in a shaft if a rise and fall motion was required or to a crank if rotary motion was called for. Cylinders could be of enormous size - up to 90 inches or more in diameter while steam pressure was low by modern standards - usually round about 40 p.s.i. See also Parallel Motion.
CORNISH PUMP or Beam Pump
A simple force-pump sited at shaft bottom and connected to a power source at surface by a vertical rod, water being forced up to the surface or to adit level through a rising main or “pump column”. See also Cornish Engine and Balance Box.
CORNISH ROLLS
See Rolls.
CORNISH STAMPS
See Stamps.
CRIB
A packed meal eaten at the mine.
CROSS COURSE
A vein, usually non-metalliferous, making an obtuse angle with adjacent lodes.
CROSSCUT
A level driven at an obtuse angle to the lode(s) in a mine.
CRUDE ARSENIC
See Arsenic.
CRUSHER
Or Jaw-crusher or Rock Breaker. Device as commonly used in quarries for reducing relatively large pieces of ore to roadstone size.
CULM
A mixture of anthracite and coke used for firing calciners.
CULVERT
A covered leat.
CYCLONE
Modern equivalent of a cone-type classifier, involving a swirling motion of its contents.
DIPPER WHEEL
See Raft Wheel.
DRESSING FLOORS
Areas where ore was treated.
DRIVE
A horizontal tunnel, the excavating of such a tunnel being referred to as Driving.
DRY
Miners' changing house with facilities for drying wet clothing.
DRYING FURNACE
For drying ore, as opposed to calcining it.
ELEVATOR
See Raft Wheel.
ELUVIAL DEPOSITS
Those that are derived by in situ weathering or weathering plus gravitational movement or accumulation.
END
The end of a drive or crosscut.
FATHOM
Unit used in mines. 1 fathom equals 6 feet.

FL

FLAT RODS
Horizontal wood or metal rods for transmitting power a distance by means of a to-and-fro motion.
FLOORS
See Dressing Floors.
FLOTATION or Froth Flotation
A modern method of ore-separation which relies on the fact that if air bubbles are introduced into a mixture of water and pulped ore some minerals will adhere to the bubbles and be carried up to the surface while others will not and will therefore sink to the bottom.
FLUE DOORS
Access openings in flues, especially arsenic flues.
FOOTWAY
Ladders leading down a shaft, or may imply the shaft itself.
FORK, FORKED
A reference to pumping, i.e. “Forked to bottom” meaning all water pumped out of the mine.
FRICTION HOIST
Machine for pulling tramwagons up an incline.
FROTH FLOTATION
See Flotation.
FRUE VANNER
A fairly modern ore-separating device consisting of a wide rubber belt stretched between two slowly-revolving rollers, the upper surface moving in a slightly uphill direction with a stream of water flowing down it. Pulped material was fed onto the belt, heavier ore particles surviving the flow of water to reach the top, lighter waste being washed to the bottom. Fell into disuse mainly due to limited capacity.
GALENA
Lead sulphide, PbS, and the principal lead ore. Usually contained a small proportion of silver, when it was termed silver-lead.
  • Jump to P
  • GANGUE
    Non-metallic waste rock accompanying the ore in a lode.
    GIN LEGS
    Simple headgear over a shaft.
    GRINDER
    See Pulveriser.
    GRIZZLEY
    Simple device for sizing rough ore, consisting of a sloping grill of iron bars onto which the ore was tipped, pieces which failed to fall through being passed to a rock-breaker for further reduction.
    GROWAN
    Rotted and decomposed granite
    HAEMATITE
    An oxide of iron, Fe2O3, a commonly worked iron ore.
    HEADBOX
    A small reservoir at the point where water from a leat was passed into a pipeline leading down to a turbine or pelton wheel, built to prevent air getting into the pipeline and to intercept sand, gravel and other debris.
    HEADGEAR
    Timber or steel frame over shaft carrying pulleys for winding ropes.
    HEADS
    The richer product from an ore-dressing device, as opposed to the poorer product, the “tails” or “tailings”.
    HOIST
    See Whim.
    HOT FLUE
    A short flue between a calciner and arsenic condensing chambers, too hot for deposition of arsenic but in which flue dust was intercepted.
    HUNTINGDON MILL
    A type of rotary pulveriser in which rollers were spun round against an outer casing by centrifugal force, crushing any ore within the casing.
    INCLINE
    Sloping tramway, usually cable-operated.
    INCLINED PLANE
    A shaft sunk at a relatively flat angle, with a tramroad leading down it.
    IRON ORE
    See Haematite.
    JAW-CRUSHER
    See Crusher.
    JIGGER or Jig or Jig Washer
    Device in which gravel-sized material was formerly shaken up and down in a sieve under water, heavy ore forming a layer at the bottom with lighter waste above it. In later versions the sieve stayed still while the water pulsated up and down and the device was also made to be continuous-acting.
    KIBBLE
    Barrel-shaped iron bucket for hoisting ore up shaft.
    KIEVE
    Wooden tub, sometimes called a chimming kievc, used in final stage of tin ore dressing.
    KNOCKER HEADS
    Mechanical hammers for striking chimming kieves to aid settlement of concentrate.
    LAGOON
    See Slime Pond.
    LANDING
    Receiving kibbles of ore at the shaft head.
    LAUNDER
    Open wooden conduit for taking water to a waterwheel or carrying pulverised ore in suspension from one ore-dressing device to another.
    LEAD ORE
    See Galena.
    LEAT
    Open watercourse for conducting water across country from river to waterwheel, etc.
    LEVEL
    Horizontal tunnel in mine not extending to the open air.
    LOADING
    Masonry or concrete support for a heavy machine, e. g. a set of stamps.
    LODE
    A vein containing a proportion of mineral ore which had to be freed from the waste rock accompanying it.
    MAGNETIC SEPARATOR
    Electrical device for separating magnetic from non-magnetic ore.
    MANGANESE ORE
    See Pyrolusite.
    MILL
    General term for building housing stamps, ore-dressing machinery, etc.
    MISPICKEL
    Arsenical iron pyrites, FeAsS, the principal arsenic ore in the district.
    MONITOR
    Powerful jet of water for washing out alluvial ore.
    MUNDIC
    Iron Pyrites, or iron sulphide, FeS2. was vapourised in a “vapour chamber" before being ignited in the cylinder.
    OPEN WORK
    A quarry-like excavation along the line of a lode.
    ORE BIN
    A large container for stockpiling ore prior to feeding it to the stamps, etc.
    ORE DRESSING
    Processing ore to separate it from the waste rock accompanying it.
    OUTCROP
    The line where a lode reaches the surface of the ground.
    OXLAND PROCESS
    An early chemical process for separating tin ore from tungsten ore, which were both heavy minerals not readily dealt with by normal gravitational methods.
    PARALLEL MOTION
    An ingenious arrangement for connecting the top of the piston rod of a Cornish pumping engine (which moved up and down in a straight line) with the inner end of the pump beam (which moved in an arc of a circle).
    PELTON WHEEL
    Water-driven power source consisting of a wheel with cups round its circumference acted on by a powerful jet of water issuing from a nozzle. Needed a head of water of 100 feet or more and speed of wheel could exceed 500 r.p.m.
    PICKING HOUSE or - shed or - floor
    Place where ore was sorted by hand.
    POWDER HOUSE
    Store for explosives usually sited some distance from mine buildings, etc.
    PRODUCER GAS
    Made by passing air and steam over a bed of glowing coal or other combustible matter to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The air and steam were drawn through the producer by the induction strokes of the gas engine, hence the alternative term “suction gas”.
    PROSPECT
    A trial excavation dug with a view to starting up a mine.
    PULP or pulped ore
    Pulverised ore usually carried along by running water from one ore-dressing device to another.
    PULSOMETER
    Rudimentary steam device for pumping from very shallow mines merely consisting of two chambers, two non-return valves and a differential valve.
    PULVERISER or Grinder
    Machine, of which many varieties existed, for reducing ore to a finely divided state.
    PUMP COLUMN
    Large iron pipe, consisting of individual sections bolted one to another for conveying water up a shaft to surface or to adit level.
    PUMP ROD
    Wooden or metal rod connected to a power source at surface down to a pump in the shaft. See also Balance Box.
    PYROLUSITE
    Manganese dioxide, MnO2, principal manganese ore in the district.
    RABBLING
    Stirring ore being roasted in a furnace.
    RACK FRAME or Ragging Frame
    A development of the square buddle which was continuous-acting so could work unattended.
    RAFT WHEEL or Dipper Wheel or Elevator
    Sometimes spelt Raff. In effect a waterwheel in reverse, which if turned by mechanical means would raise up waterborne pulped ore so that it could be put through the ore-dressing processes a second time.
    REFINING FURNACE
    A simple furnace in which crude arsenic, or “arsenic soot” was roasted again, fumes from which were condensed to produce pure “white arsenic”.
    REVERBERATORY FURNACE
    See Calciner.
    RINKLE
    Burnt residue from roasting ore in calciner or other furnace.
    ROCKER BOB or Rocker Beam or Bob or Beam
    Massive pivotted beam connected at one end to a power source, e.g. piston rod of a steam engine and at the other to a line of pump rods in a shaft, or to a crank if rotary motion was required.
    ROLLS or Cornish Rolls
    Parallel revolving rollers between which ore was crushed when fine crushing was not needed.
    ROUND FRAME
    A development of the circular buddle in which the bed itself revolved, pulp being fed onto it at one point, waste was washed off at a second point and concentrated ore at a third point, so that it was continuous-acting.
    SCREEN
    Perforated metal or woven wire sieve, either vibrating rectangular or revolving cylindrical, for sizing ore fragments.
    SETT
    The area of ground owned or leased by a mine.
    SETTLING PIT or Settling Tank
    Tank, usually rectangular and of concrete, where waterborne ore could settle and be dug out after the water accompanying it had been drained off.
    SHAFT
    More or less vertical entrance to a mine. Could be for pumping from (usually termed Engine Shaft), for hoisting from (sometimes termed a Whim Shaft), for access by ladders (termed Footway Shaft), or for ventilation.
    SHAFT COLLAR
    Timber or masonry structure round top of shaft to prevent loose ground collapsing inwards.
    SHAKING TABLE
    See Concentrating Table.
    SHEAR LEGS
    Timber structure at shaft head carrying a pulley, used for raising or lowering heavy equipment in the shaft.
    SLIME POND or Lagoon.
    Pond where waste slime could be settled rather than be carried into neighbouring rivers.
    SLIME TABLE.
    Round Frame or Concentrating Table designed to deal specifically with slimes.
    SLIMES
    Ore so finely divided as to be difficult to recover completely.
    SLUICE BOX or Strip
    Long wooden launder with low crosspieces placed at intervals along the bottom ofit. Ore and waste was allowed to flow along it in suspension, heavy particles tending to settle against the crosspieces while water and lighter material flowed over them.
    SKIP
    See Cage.
    SOLLAR
    Wooden platform in or over a shaft. When mines were abandoned shafts were sometimes “sollared over” and the sollar covered with rubble, making such sites dangerous today with the rotting of the sollars with consequent risk of collapse into the shaft.
    SOOT
    See Arsenic.
    SPALLING
    Breaking up large pieces of ore with sledge hammers.
    SPRINKLER
    See Wash Tower.
    STAMPS
    Devices for crushing lode material to the consistency of sand as a first step towards separating mineral ore from waste rock. Various types existed (Cornish, Californian, Holman's Pneumatic, etc.) the simplest form amounting to vertical stems or “lifters” with their lower ends heavily shod with iron, each being alternately lifted by pegs on a revolving drum and allowed to drop on material in a mortar box.
    STOPE, Stoping
    Excavation of ore underground was referred to as stoping and the place where it was carried out as a stope. Removing ore from the roof of the stope was referred to as overhand or back stoping while taking it from the floor (the less usual method) as underhand stoping.
    STREAMWORKS
    STRIP
    See Sluice Box.
    STULL
    Working platform or staging erected to facilitate access to the upper part of a stope.
    TABLE
    See Concentrating Table.
    TAIL RACE
    Leat or conduit taking water away from a waterwheel, etc.
    TAILINGS or Tails
    The poorer product from an ore-dressing device, as opposed to the richer product, the “Heads”.
    TIN FLOORS
    See Dressing Floors.
    TIN ORE
    See Cassiterite.
    TRAMROAD or Tramway
    Narrow gauge mine railway, either above or below ground.
    TROMMEL
    Revolving sieve for sizing ore fragments.
    TUNGSTEN ORE
    See Wolfram.
    SUCTION GAS
    See Producer Gas.
    TURBINE or Water Turbine
    Power source in which a flow of water was used to turn an enclosed spindle to which vanes were attached. Could be designed to work from a head of water of only a foot or so up to several hundred feet at rotor speeds of about 40 r.p.m. upwards.
    TURNBOB or Angle Bob
    Arrangement for changing the direction of flat rods or pump rods, resembling a large bell crank.
    UMBER
    Earthy brown ore containing iron and manganese and used for paint manufacture, etc.
    VANNER
    See Frue Vanner.
    VANNING SHOVEL
    A special shovel with a rather broad flat blade used by prospectors or as a ready means of checking the products of ore-dressing appliances. Water and crushed material are put on the blade which is then given a combined jerking and swirling motion which causes the heavier particles to separate out from the waste.
    WASH TOWER
    A chamber between the end of an arsenic flue and the stack containing blocks of limestone kept wet by water from a sprinkler and intended to reduce the emission of noxious gases from the stack.
    WATER TURBINE
    See Turbine.
    WATERWHEEL
    Common source of power, in use in almost every traditional mine and usually of the “overshot” variety, water being fed to the upper part of the wheel, its weight in the “buckets” causing the wheel to revolve. Speed of rotation slow - up to 15 r.p.m. for small wheels down to only 4 r.p.m. or so in the biggest. Made in all sizes, up to 50 or more feet in diameter.
    WHEAL
    Prefix meaning mine which in earlier days was spelt Huel.
    WHEELPIT
    Masonry pit in which a waterwheel was sited.
    WHIM or Hoist or Winder
    Machine for hoisting from a shaft, Whim being the older term, driven by any convenient power source, and usually provided with an indicator so that the engineman could be kept aware of the position of the cage in the shaft.
    WINZE
    Vertical shaft within a mine, but not extending to surface.
    WOLFRAM
    Tungsten ore, tungstate of iron and manganese, (Fe,Mn)WO4, the chief source of tungsten in the district.