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Monday, 30 May 2016


The gold mines of Nubia were among the largest and most extensive of any in Ancient Egypt. Fire-setting was one method used by the Egyptians to break down the hard rock holding the gold.

The silver mines of Laurium, which helped support the Greek city state of Athens. had over 20,000 slaves working in them. However, the technology was essentially identical to their Bronze Age predecessors.

The Romans developed large scale mining methods, especially the use of large volumes of water brought to the minehead by numerous aqueducts

The Great Bullion Famine was a severe shortage of precious metals - particularly silver - in fifteenth-century Europe. The reasons for the bullion famine lay in the depletion of silver mines located in what are now Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia..

The Hartley Colliery disaster was a coal mining accident in Northumberland, England that occurred on January 16. 1862. It resulted in the deaths of 240 men and boys and prompted a change in UK law which henceforth required all collieries to have at least two independent means of escape.

Hartley Colliery Disaster, the dead are brought up to their families (L'llustration, 1862, p 101)

Twin explosions at Oaks Colliery, near Barnsley, Yorkshire killed 383 victims on December 12, 1866. The deceased comprised miners some as young as ten, plus around 27 rescuers. It remains England’s worst mining disaster.

An engraving of the disaster

The Courrières mine disaster, Europe's worst ever, killed 1,099 miners in northern France in 1906.

The worst mining accident in the United Kingdom's history took place when an explosion took the lives of 439 people at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd, Wales on October 14, 1913.

Crowds await news at the Universal Colliery, Senghenydd

Kimberley Mine located in Northern Cape, South Africa is the largest ever hand-dug excavation in the world. This 1097 meter deep mine opened in 1871 and yielded over three tonnes of diamonds before being closed on August 14, 1914 The amount of earth removed by workers is estimated to have totalled 22.5 million tonnes.

Open-pit diamond mine (known as the Big Hole or Kimberley Mine) . By Irene2005 - Wikipedia Commons

Retired miner Robert ‘Mountain Bob’ Leasure spent 226 days down a mine in Colorado in 1994, to try to set a world record for the longest time underground. But it turned out he hadn’t beaten that record, just the record for staying in a mine. Milutin Veljkovic spent 463 days in an underground cave in Serbia (then Yugoslavia) in 1970.

A devastating mining accident at Lake Peigneur Salt Mine in 1980 due to a "minor miscalculation" by Texaco, which resulted in an entire lake being drained into a salt mine. The vortex even reversed the current of the Gulf of Mexico for four days

The deepest mine in the world is TauTona gold mine in Carletonville, South Africa at 2.4 miles (3.9 kms).

Nearly half the gold ever mined has come from Witwatersrand in South Africa.

To reach 'rock bottom' means the lowest one can get, literally or metaphorically, and a person has nothing left to lose. Alcohol and drug abuse are often contributing factors. The expression is of mining origin, and alludes to the layers of bedrock that are reached when the mine is exhausted.

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