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Funny mine

17 October 2012, 07:24
One morning I was doing inspection on the 4 booster pump stations that pump water to the Rossing mine 68 km from Swakopmund. I was held up at the 2nd booster station for some forgotten reason. Soon a bakkie stopped at the station and the driver introduced himself to me. His problem was he was not getting water from Water affairs because they had cut his supplies. He was the owner of a small lead mine a few kilometres away. He asked me if I could resume the supply because his mine needed the water urgently.    

As I was doing meter readings I asked him to take me to the mine then I can determine what his problem was. The valves at my end were both open. After taking the readings I noticed his valves were closed at 90% and only a dribble was coming out of the valves. We opened the valves fully and he had his water.      

He invited me to visit the underground workings of his mine, I agreed. We descended on a vertical ladder which felt like lowering oneself through a sewerage inspection entry.  The mine consisted of a long tunnel or drive as it is sometimes referred to. At regular intervals side tunnels were excavated by blasting and a narrow gauge railway line was installed which met up with the main line in the drive and . used for tramming blasted debris and ground to the tip area where it will be hoisted to surface. I was fascinated at the lead deposits. What was of more interest is the Rossing mine was only a few Kilometres away and and the uranium mined there was related to the lead formation. The final product of uranium decay is lead. The mine had a clean ambience with little litter or rubbish laying around.     

Later the manager asked me if I wanted a job as a fitter/boilermaker on his mine I turned it down because I was in the electrical business.    

I was returned to the pump station and completed the inspection. I sent the paperwork through to Windhoek and received a notification that the private mine was deeply in debt due to non-payment of the water account. I was instructed to close the valves fully and attach a lock and chain to the opening mechanism. Which was duly done. The mine manager was duly informed and he eventually paid up.   

That area of Namibia was crawling with  scorpions. They had a nasty habit of entering the pump stations and hiding under the machinery. There were two types: A nasty looking black one and a highly poisonous white one.   

Later years Rossing mine ran a campaign to collect the scorpions for their poison and research.        26/09/12    
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