Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Mining Terminology 

After Damp - Gasses resulting from underground combustion, normally carbon monoxide. This is a loose term implying any fatal gas in a mine after an explosion or fire. 

Air Shaft - A vertical opening into a mine for the passage of air. 

Airway - Any passage in a mine along which an air current moves. Some passages are driven solely for air. Other passages, such as a main level, are all purpose, to move air, men, and materials. 

Bank and Bankhead - The building at the entrance to a mine into which the material boxes are drawn and dumped into the mine screens, and from there to railway. The term is loosely described as all the surface buildings. 

Balance - An inclined passage running up at right angles from a main level, into the seam, normally tracked with boxes drawn up by balance and lowered gravity. The term gradually means a pair of passages, connected at the top, one of which is upcast and the other is downcast for ventilation. 

Bearing In - Cutting a horizontal groove at the bottom or side of the face. 

Bed - A separate stratum of material or other natural deposit such as clay, rock or shale. 

Bench - A horizontal section of material seam included between parting of shale. 

Black Damp - Carbon dioxide gas, sometimes known as choke damp. 

Blower - Gas discharged under pressure from a vein in a seam. 

Boom - A wooden support of the mine roof, like a building rafter, that is set horizontally.

Bore Hole - A hole of small diameter drilled or bored to explore the strata beneath, above, beside or ahead. 

Box - A mine car or wagon into which material is loaded at the face and from there is transported to the surface. 

Brattice - A partition normally made of canvas, but sometimes made of wood, to make two airways where one existed before, and permit air to move in and out of the mine area. 

Break through - As for cross heading. 

British Thermal Unit (B.T.U.) - Heat needed to raise one pound of water by one degree F (252 calories). 

Brusher - A workman (always an experienced miner) who keeps the roof, sides and pavement of a passage in good repair. 

Butty - A miner's working partner - also known as “buddy”. 

Bullwheel - A wheel, operating freely, around which passes the rope in a balance - gravity - power system. Most are equipped with brakes. 

Cage - The elevator that transports the men from the bankhead into the mine. 

Carbon Ratio - Percentage of fixed carbon in coal. 

Chainrunner - A workman who fastens and unfastens, as required, haulage cables to trips, and whose signals direct the haulage engineer operator to stop the trip. The chainrunner underground functions much as a guard brakeman on a railway. 

Chamber - An excavation from which coal is taken, known also as a bord or room (in Great Britain, it is known as breast). 

Checkweighman - The miners representative, chosen by ballot, who checks the weight of coal recovered in the miner's favor, when the coal boxes filled by the miners underground are weighed at the bankhead. 

Chock - Chuck, pack - a hardwood block, two or more feet long, six inches or more square, used as a temporary roof support, normally in longwall operations and withdrawn as the wall advances or retreats. In some longwall operations, chocks are left to ease pressure off the crushed roof and prevent it spreading to the face. 

Choke Damp - A loosely used term for carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. 

Cleat or Cleavage - The term applied to the natural forces, or planes of division, causing material to break up into more or less rectangular blocks.

Compaction - A decrease in the volume of sediment as a result of compressive stress, usually resulting from continued deposits above, but also from drying and other causes. 

Creep - A crush in which pillars are forced down into the floor, or up into the roof of a mine. 

Crossheading - A narrow opening for ventilation driven through coal or rock separating two passages. 

Cuddy - A weighted tram, to counterbalance a loaded tub and pull up the empty tub. 

Cut - A groove excavated in the material face in preparation for blasting. 

Datal - Day wage work, minimum wage. 

Deadwork - Work for which the miner is not paid. 

Deep - Workings below the level of the pit bottom or main levels extending there from. 

Dip - Technically, the angle that any inclined stratum makes with a horizontal line. Often loosely used to describe the seam dip or to follow the dip. 

Downcast - The passage through which air is drawn through the mine. 

Draegermen - A mine worker or official, engaged in mine rescue while wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus. 

Drift - The passage through which air is drawn into the mine. 

Drill - Any tool used for boring holes underground. 

Drive – To excavate a passage. 

Driver - A workman, usually a boy, who drives an underground work horse. 

Drum - A revolving cylinder on a stationary hoisting or hauling engine, around which the hoisting or hauling cable is wound. 

Entry - The main entrance and travelling passage of the mine. 

Examiner - An official who patrols a mine section to examine the workings for accumulation of gas and other hazards. 

Fan - A machine used to force ventilation through a mine. It may be a blow or suction fan, located on the surface or underground.

Fire Damp - Methane or any explosive gas underground. 

Fissure - A separation of rock across the seam.

Head - A passage connecting other passages. 

Head Frame - The metal frame erected over a shaft, which bears the hoisting wheels from which the cages are suspended.

Hoist - An engine with a winding drum and rope which hauls or hoists a trip or cage. 

Induration - The process of hardening of sediments through cementation, pressure, heat, or other cause. 

Lamp - The apparatus carried by all personnel underground to give light. 

Lamp Cabin - The place where mine lamps are stored, repaired, charged with electricity or oil and issued to personnel before going underground. 

Level - An excavation or passageway driven in the material, establishing a base from which other workings begin. A colliery level does not mean a passageway excavated on a horizontal plane. A level is generally excavated in one or more slight inclines. 

Lift - All the workings driven upwards from one level in a steep pitching seam. 

Loader - A miner's assistant who loads coal into boxes and generally assists the miner at the face. 

Long Wall - A mining operation at a long coal face between parallel passages, the face being from 50 to 100+ feet, from which the coal is blasted, then loaded by hand onto mechanically shaken pans which move the coal to the pit boxes. 

Manway - A passage in or into the mine used as a foot path. 

Manager - The official in charge of a mine, surface and underground.

Metamorphism - The mineralogical and structural adjustment of solid rocks to physical and chemical conditions that have been imposed at depth below surface. 

Miner - Technically a workman engaged in extracting of material at the face, but generally used to describe anyone who works underground. 

Mouth - The opening at the surface of any passage into a mine. 

Opening - Any excavation in or into a mine. 

Operator - The person, company, corporation working a mine, or the individual at the controls of a machine. 

Outcrop - That part of a geographical stratum that appears at the surface. 

Overman - An underground official ranking below underground manager, in charge of a mine section, or, in some circumstances, in charge of a whole mine during the overmen's shift. 

Pavement - The bottom of the floor of any excavation.

Piece Can - The underground workman's lunch container, usually made from sheet metal, with a tea can made from the same material. 

Pillar - A column or body of coal left unmined to support the roof. 

Pillard and Bord - The name used to describe a mining method (i.e. coal is extracted from the bords and left in the pillars). The latter's extraction is the final mining process. 

Pit - A mine. 

Plane - An incline on which a track is laid on which to lower or hoist material. 

Powder - Explosive chemical in powder form used at the face to blast. 

Prop - A wooden upright post to support the roof. 

Pumpman - A workman who maintains and supervises a pump's operation. 

Pump Way - The compartment of a shaft or slope down which pump rods and pipes extend; also called pump slope and pump shaft. 

Punchers - Air-driven percussive pick machines. 

Rake - Carries the men into and out of the mine. 

Rib - The side of an excavation. 

Roadway - See level. 

Rob - To mine from pillars. 

Rollerman - A workman who lubricates and maintains the rollers and pulleys over and through which haulage cables pass. 

Roof - Strata immediately over a seam; rock over head in any excavation. 

Seam - also called a vein. 

Sediment - Solid material, both mineral and organic, that has come to rest on the earth's surface either above or below sea level.

Shaft - A vertical excavation connecting surface and mine workings. 

Shaftman - A workman who patrols in a slowly moving cage in a mine shaft, and maintains the shaft by working through the cage side, or on its top, or suspended from the cage bottom. 

Shift - The time during which workmen work, alternating with some other period. 

Shooting - Blasting in a mine. 

Shot - The explosive charge. 

Shotfirer - The official prior to detonating an explosive charge to blast, examines the area for gas, examines the preparations made for the blasting and when assured that all safety regulations have been complied with, detonates the shot. 

Sinking - A passage driven on an incline down to workings in lower depths, comparable to an inside slope. 

Slope - An entrance to a mine driven down through an inclined seam. An inside slope in a mine is a passage in the mine driven from one system of workings down through a seam, to bring up material from a lower system of workings. 

Slopeman - A workman who patrols and keeps in repair the mine's main and back slopes. 

Stableman - A workman who cares for the horses and maintains the stable underground. In off-working days the stableman is responsible for watering the horses. 

Store Keeper - A semi-clerical worker who supervises a storeroom of colliery tools and equipment, and who issues these items for use upon instruction of competent authority. 

Stripping - Mining by first removing the covering strata down to the bed; open workings as in a quarry; sometimes used to describe a final mining operation drawing pillars. When all material is removed the roof crashes down.

Sump - A basin or collection place in a mine, into which water runs to be pumped out. 

Trackman - A workman who keeps mine tracks in repair. 

Trapper - Trapper boy, a boy stationed at an underground door, to open and close it when boxes pass, and thus control the air current. 

Travelling Way - A passageway for men and horses in and out of the mine. 

Trip - A number of boxes drawn by power, as for rake. 

Tunnel - The passageway between two mines or systems of working, driven horizontally across the measures. 

Ultimate Analysis - Determines percentages of chemical elements - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur. 

Upcast - The passage from and in a mine through which air passes. 

Volatile Matter - Those substances, other than moisture, that are given off as gas and vapour during combustion. 

Workings - An excavation of a mine, as a whole, or that part of a mine in which mining operations are being done.

adit a horizontal or nearly horizontal underground passage coming to the surface at one end of a mine.
alluvial of or pertaining to alluvium; alluvial soil.
alluvium a deposit of sand, mud, etc., formed by flowing water.
assay to analyze (an ore, alloy, etc.) in order to determine the proportion of gold, silver, or other metal in it.
 claim something that is claimed, esp. a piece of public land for which formal request is made for mining or other purposes.
claim-jumper a person who seizes another's claim of land, esp. for mineral rights.
coyote hole a shallow excavation dug in the ground for mineral exploration or extraction.
excavation an area where rock or alluvium has been removed.
fools gold FeS2 - iron pyrite, sometimes mistaken for gold.
gold a precious yellow metallic element, highly malleable and ductile, and not subject to oxidation or corrosion. Symbol: Au; atomic. weight: 196.967; atomic number: 79
lode a deposit of gold or other minerals.
malleable malleability, property of a metal describing the ease with which it can be hammered, forged, pressed, or rolled into thin sheets. Metals vary in this respect; pure gold is the most malleable.
mercury a liquid metal used by the miners to concentrate gold Symbol: Hg; atomic. weight: 200.59; atomic number: 80
mine to dig in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores or other valuable minerals.
Mother Lode a belt of very rich gold-bearing quartz veins.
nugget an random shaped piece of gold of medium to large size.
ore a mineral-bearing rock, which may be rich enough to be mined at a profit.
placer alluvial deposit containing particles or larger pieces of gold or other minerals.
portal an entrance to a tunnel, drift or adit in a mine.
prospect an excavation undertaken in a search for ore.
prospecting the search for mineral deposits suitable for mining.
quartz one of the most common of all rock-forming minerals and one of the most important constituents of the earth's crust. Quartz may be transparent, translucent, or opaque; it may be colorless to colored.
raise a shaft excavated upward for connecting adjacent levels. The terms “raise” and “winze” are used interchangeably to describe a completed opening.
stalactites a deposit, usually of calcium carbonate, shaped like an icicle, hanging from the roof of a cave or the like, and formed by the dripping of calcareous (containing calcium) water.
stamp mill a mill or machine in which ore is crushed to powder by means of heavy stamps or pestles.
stope any upward excavation made in a mine, esp. from a steeply inclined vein, to remove the ore that has been rendered accessible by the shafts and drifts.
tailings refuse material resulting from the washing, concentration, or treatment of ore.
vein a deposit of non-sedimentary origin, which may or may not contain valuable minerals; lode.
winze a vertical or inclined shaft, driven downward from a drift into an ore body to another level. (see raise)