Glossary of Mining Terminology

ADIT — An entrance to a mine, generally a horizontal tunnel.

AMALGAMATION — The technique of using mercury to attract small particles of crushed gold and join with them in an amalgam, or alloy. Gold may be recovered by distilling off the mercury.

ARRASTRA — A mill, consisting of one or more large stones dragged around on a circular bed, used to grind ore.

CHILEAN MILL — A machine, somewhat like the arrastra, in which heavy stone wheels turn about a central shaft and crush ore.

CORNISH PUMP — A type of pump developed in Cornwall, England, and commonly used in deep mines of the nineteenth century to raise underground water.

CROSSCUT — A horizontal tunnel driven perpendicular to the main direction of a vein.

DRIFT — An underground tunnel which follows the course of a vein.

FOOTWALL — The wall or rock on the underside of a stope.

GALLERY — A drift which has been enlarged into an underground room by the extraction of ore.

GANGUE — The worthless rock in a vein which holds valuable metals.

GEOLOGY — The science or study of rocks in the earth.

HANGING WALL — The wall or rock on the upper or topside of an ore deposit.

KIBBLE — Iron Cornish bucket used to hoist ore and miners to the surface.

LEVEL — Horizontal passageways or tunnels in the mine leading from shafts, established at regular intervals.

LODE — An ore deposit occurring in place within definite boundaries separating it from the adjoining rocks.

METAMORPHISM — A pronounced change in the constitution of rock effected by pressure, heat, and water that results in a more compact and more highly crystalline condition.

MINERAL — A substance which may, or may not, be of economic value, that occurs naturally in the earth. It is homogenous, has certain chemical makeup and usually appears in crystal or grain form.

ORE — A mixture of minerals and gangue from which at least one of the minerals can be extracted at a profit.

PAN — A shallow metal dish used for washing earth and stones to separate the gold.

PLACER — An alluvial or glacial deposit containing particles of gold or other valuable minerals.

RETORT — A vessel in which substances are distilled or decomposed by heat.

ROCKER — A device for washing gold-bearing earth to recover the precious metal.

SHAFT — A vertical entrance to a mine cut downward from the surface.

SQUARE SET — A set of timbers used for support in underground mining.

STAMP MILL — A machine for crushing ore by the weight of constantly falling pieces of iron, stone, or wood. The action approximates the pulverizing of material with a mortar and pestle.

STOPE — An excavation created by the removal of ore and consequent widening of the drift.

TAILINGS — Finely ground particles of ore deposited as waste after processing by a mill or smelter.

VEIN — An opening, fissure, or crack in rock, containing mineralized material.

WASTE — Rock containing no ore but removed in the course of mining operations.

WHIM — A winding machine used for hoisting ore out of a shaft.

WINDLASS — A device, smaller than a whim, used to raise ore from a shaft.

WINZE — A vertical or inclined opening sunk from a point inside a mine.


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