The Right Safety Gear

It is important to enter each mine with the proper equipment and then to keep a cool head. Gear alone isn't enough to keep you safe, but it's a good place to start. We will cover gear in this section and then cover other common dangers in the other sections.

Basic Mining Gear:

Looking up at a headframe

Looking up at a headframe over a shaft

Helmet – A climbing or construction helmet – preferably with a chin strap. (Construction helmets can be large and cumbersome. If you want something lighter, try a climbing helmet. These will be more expensive, but lighter.)
Cap Lamp – A reliable light affixed securely to the helmet. (LED headlamps are best as they provide a lot of light at a very minimal battery burn.)
Backup Light – A reliable second source of light.
Boots – Strong well-fitting boots with ankle support. (Preferably Steel-toed and waterproof.)
Gloves – Leather or other five fingered protective gloves.
Coveralls – Cotton or poly mix coveralls to protect clothing.
Respirator – Provides an air-tight seal against the skin to protect against particulate inhalation and filtering of certain organic compounds. (A paint grade respirator will work. Mines are dusty, dirty and sometimes moldy. These will not kill you, but can make you pretty sick. Don’t take chances, get a good grade of respirator and wear it. Replace filters as recommended.)
Safety Glasses – Provides eye protection from flying debris when working.
Air Monitor – An electronic device that senses the concentrations of specific gasses within the mine atmosphere.
First Aid Kit – A collection of band aids, antiseptic, and other basic first aid items.
Water / food – Especially important in larger mines. (If there is an emergency and you are stuck for a while you will be glad you brought it.)

Advanced Mining Gear:

GPS, Clinometer, and Altimeter – A GPS will help you monitor your above ground location and direction. Elevations, incline and decline are indicated by the clinometer and altimeter. These tools are essential to accurate surveying.
Harness – An adjustable device designed to fit the user’s trunk and to aide in secure ascending and descending rope.
Rope – Specifically designed for climbing, static and dynamic ropes are used to ascend and descend slopes and shafts. Dynamic rope is used in scenarios where a climber may fall and arrested by the rope. Static is used when low stretch is required and ascending gear may be used.
Descending / Ascending Gear – Specifically designed mechanisms for descending or ascending rope. Descending gear are all friction devices that slow the descent of a load. Ascending gear allows for unidirectional movement of the rope through the device.
Anchors / Anchor Setting Gear – Metal eyelets secured to competent rock. Anchor setting gear may include a drill and masonry bit for creating anchor holes.
Carabiners – Locking eyelets used to attach climbing gear to rope or harness or in rigging rope.
Pulleys – A closed frame with a wheel over which rope is run, often used in haul systems to create a mechanical advantage or redirect rope.
Webbing – Sewn fabric strips used in rigging rope, anchoring, or harnesses.
Rescue Litter – A backboard designed for patient transport.

You will also need other tools depending on if you are surveying the mine or if you are going to actually be mining.

Surveying a mine

Surveying a mine

A proper underground survey will requires some specific tools. These all relate to measurements and documentation of the mine. We recommend a chainman or similar string measurement device. Tie the chainman to the entrance of the mine, then proceed into the mine. Make sure your string is clear and unencumbered. Use a tape measure or ruler to record the width of veins and specimens. A good camera with the right lighting is vital. It is easier to look at pictures when planning your mining operation than having to go underground every time you have a question. A good fluorescent spray paint can also come in handy. Use spray paint to mark out both the sample area and in some cases, to help you find your way out. Use this freely, it’s extremely helpful. A GPS will help you monitor your above ground location and direction. Elevations, incline and decline are indicated by a clinometer and altimeter. These tools are essential to accurate surveying.

These are your basic tools for an underground survey. A survey will map out what the mine looks like, where the tunnels are in relation to the ground above, and where the valuable veins and deposits are. Once complete, this document is invaluable. Miners often pay thousands of dollars for an underground survey.

The advice regarding safety, found above, does not cover every danger you might encounter in a mine and is not a substitute for sound judgement. We recommend becoming as educated as you can on mine safety. The more you know the better chance you will have of enjoying your mine and extracting the ores without incident.

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