Underground

This section contains archival material from former Forum users.
Membership forms: http://www.abpa.org.au/membership.html
Post Reply
ALANM
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: Tasmania

Underground

Post by ALANM » Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:29 pm

Underground
(By Alan McCosker March 2020)

Even on the darkest night
there’s still a trace of faint starlight
clouds may block the moon from sight
yet it peeps through cracks with silver light
no matter how dark, that it be
you can still see shapes in shades of grey
come the night your eyes will see
the change to shadows from the day

But take a ride down in a mine, down a shaft or a steep decline
where on weeping walls way undergound, only work lights shine
down a thousand feet below, where miners work in their cap lamps glow
to win from Mother Earth the ore, that builds the world that we all know

Down there the dark is so intense, there’s no longer shades of grey
it’s hard to tell what’s left or right, you can easily lose your way
if you bring your hand up to your face, you’ll not know until it’s touching
to be down there without a light, you’re in total blackout, all consuming

At the entrance to a worked out level, some miners there are building
a bulkhead wall of concrete blocks, to seal forever that old working
up in a cage beneath the backs, sweating miners hang the venting
to bring life giving fresh air, from the rise down to new workings

On the edge of an open stope, the next ring is being charged
mist from the anfo fills the air, as the kettle is discharged
when all the holes are loaded and nonels hooked up to the detcord
they race to put their gear away, ‘fore tagging off up at the tagboard

Beneath a worked out open cut, several hundred metres down
a miner works in narrow confines, flat backing upwards through the vein
he swings the air-leg up and ‘round to face the Panther to the ore
turns on the air, the rock drill starts, with a deafening blasting roar

Down a long and narrow drive, parked beneath the hanging wall
a miner works a Simba drill, boring charge holes through the ore
as each ring of holes are done, he marks them off his work chart
then pulls the Simba back a bit, to set up on the next mark

At the decline face, the furthest down, the air is hot and humid
the ventilation only brings hot air, most descriptions of it lurid
they get the face charged up and ready, for an end of day shift firing
behind fogged glasses eyes are stinging, clothes soaked from their perspiring

If you’re underground at firing, the ground shakes violently ‘neath your feet
you keep your eyes up on the backs in case, a falling rock your head might meet
and when the smoke and fumes are cleared, it’s time to hose the dust down
long bars are used to scale the backs and the widow makers brought down

Then a bogger comes to clean it up and muck out all the firing
loads it on a truck which hauls it up, to where mullock is stockpiling
big diesels roar, fill the air with fumes, that are monoxide laden
but it’s safer now, drivers sit, behind glass in an aircon cabin

Still, charging down a steep decline in a fifty five ton truck
needs confidence and skill, those drivers don’t rely on luck
at a rapid pace, inches away, from the unforgiving rock wall
at the bottom they are loaded, then starts a long slow boring uphaul

Then Jumbo comes to pin up mesh and drive bolts into the rock
to keep the backs from falling down, on those below at work
and then it all begins again, with mark up paint and Jumbo drilling
until it’s ready to be charged, for an end of night shift firing

Up in the surface workshop, Diesel Fitters work their miracles
always working on the gear, trucks and boggers, utes and rock drills
a message on the UHF, sees one grab his tools and tag on
then head on down the steep decline, to find and fix a breakdown

As the mine goes ever deeper down, t’wards the bottom of the ore
Sparkies hang their heavy cables and pin their cabinets to the rock wall
the service crew in their Snorkel cage, hang lines to carry air and water
while a Nipper goes from job to job, the Shift Boss keeps all in order

Down a thousand feet below, miners work in their cap lamps glow
to win from Mother Earth the ore, that builds the world that we all know
on a fourteen seven roster, working twelve hour day and night shifts
more than a thousand miles from home, on a fly-in fly-out manifest

User avatar
Shelley
Posts: 1944
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 5:39 pm
Location: Maryborough, Queensland
Contact:

Re: Underground

Post by Shelley » Wed Apr 08, 2020 3:23 pm

A vivid word picture of life underground Alan. Safe to say you've done a bit of it in your time?
Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines
http://www.shelleyhansen.com

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

r.magnay
Posts: 1391
Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:41 pm
Location: Port Lincoln SA

Re: Underground

Post by r.magnay » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:38 am

Good onya Alan, brings back memories, I spent about 12 months as an underground sparky at an old gold and copper mine at Tennant Creek, NT, back in the nineties...certainly a different kind of dark down there hey!
Ross

ALANM
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: Tasmania

Re: Underground

Post by ALANM » Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:58 pm

Thanks Shelley and thanks Ross,
Yes,been down under in a few mines over the years and as you say Ross,it's a different kind of dark,it's absolute.

Terry
Posts: 2954
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Underground

Post by Terry » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:54 pm

G/day Alan
I spent a few years with mostly daily shifts underground in the nineteen sixties,
but my experiences were a bit tame compared to what you describe in your poem.
I was Opal mining at Coober Pedy and about eighty feet was as deep as we would have reached,
mind you once you left the shaft area it was pitch black.
In our early days we either used candles but usually carbide lights,
later on we upgraded to a twelve volt system.
I enjoyed your poem mate and I can see you have been busy for awhile now,
and have written quite a few others as well.

Cheers Alanm

Terry

ALANM
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: Tasmania

Re: Underground

Post by ALANM » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:28 pm

G'day Terry,
Thanks for your comments mate,I wanted to follow up my poem 'What's Yours is Mined' with something that
gave something of an idea of what happens, working underground in a hard rock decline mine.
I hope I have done it justice.
Cheers
Alan

Terry
Posts: 2954
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Underground

Post by Terry » Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:27 pm

Where were you working Alanm?

There was a tragedy in a decline mine over here in the west some years ago
when flood waters overwhelmed the earthen banks that ringed the mine and flooded the decline,
several lives were lost.
Deep mining can be a dangerous game at the best of times.

Cheers

Terry

ALANM
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: Tasmania

Re: Underground

Post by ALANM » Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:32 am

G'day Terry,
I worked in mines in North West Queensland and also on the West Coast of Tasmania.
Yes mate it has it's dangers but so to does open cut mining.
I've never worked in coal mining which I reckon is more dangerous than either.
Cheers
Alan

Post Reply