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Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Glossary
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A

Adit
A nearly horizontal passage from the surface by which a mine is entered and through which water is removed. It has just sufficient slope to ensure drainage.

Air-shaft
A shaft used expressly for ventilation.

Airway
Any passage through which air is carried into a mine.

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B

Barrier pillar
A solid block of coal left unworked between two mines as a protection against an influx of water, between workings and a road allowance or between workings and a nearby river.

Blackdamp
A mixture of air and carbon dioxide or air with an excess content of nitrogen.

Brattice
A canvas cloth used to deflect air currents; usually used near the working face and is of a temporary nature.

Bone
Slatey or carbonaceous shale found in coal seams.

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C

Cage
An enclosed platform on which men and mine cars are transported in a vertical shaft. Similar to an elevator.

Cager or Cage Tender
The person who puts the cars on the cage at the top or bottom of the shaft.

Car
The wheeled vehicle used to transport coal from the workings to the surface.

Carbide
A compound of carbon and calcium which, with the addition of water, produces acetylene gas, used in miners' lamps.

Cave or Cave-in
A collapsing of the roof of a mine.

Charge
Amount of explosive used in one blast or shot.

Check-weigh man
A man appointed and paid by the miners to check the weighing of coal at the surface.

Chock or Cog
A square pillar for supporting the roof; constructed of timbers laid up crossways in alternate layers, the centre being filled with waste material.

Chock
A tapered piece of wood placed in the kerf to keep it open until ready for blasting.

Cleat
Vertical cleavage in coal seams.

Coal cutter
A machine used to undercut or shear a coal seam; one who operates such a machine.

Coal deposit
A defined area over which consistent coal deposits exist and reserve calculations can be obtained.

Coal dust
Very finely powdered coal.

Coal field
A large area of consistent coal deposition for which reserve calculations can be obtained; usually comprised of two or more deposits.

Coal seam
A continuous layer of coal extending over some distance.

Coal zone
A vertical extent of intermittent coal seams and intermingled shale or clay. The Zone extends from the top of the uppermost seam to the bottom of the lowermost one.

Colliery
The whole mine plant, including the mine and all its adjuncts.

Creep
The upheaval of the floor, due to a tender or unstable floor, or the sagging of the roof of the mine-due to the weight of the unsupported rock.

Crosscut
A tunnel driven through or across the rock strata from one seam to another: a small passageway driven at right angles to the main entry to connect to a parallel entry or counter entry.

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D

Dead work
Work that is not directly productive, such as cleaning up rock falls or re-timbering airways.

Dip
The angle that a structural surface, e.g., bedding plane or fault plane, makes with the horizontal, measured perpendicular to the strike of the structure.

Downcast
The opening through which the fresh air is drawn, or forced, into the mine; the intake.

Drift
A tunnel driven from the outcrop into the seam; a tunnel driven in rock from one seam to another.

Driver
A worker who drives horses from a gathering point to the mechanical haulage; anyone who drives horses underground.

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E

Entry
A main haulage road, gangway or airway; an underground passage used for haulage or ventilation.

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F

Face
The place where the coal is actually being worked, either in a room or in long wall.

Fault
A fracture in the earth that breaks the continuity of the coal seam and/or strata. Frequently results in displacement of said strata or seam.

Fire-boss
A section foreman responsible for blasting and supervising an underground crew of up to 16 men. Also inspects the mine for gas.

Firedamp
A mixture of air and methane gas.

Friable roof
Very unstable materials in the roof of the workings; easily crumbled rock materials in the roof.

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G

Gathering point
Place in the mine where trips of cars are made up for their journey to the shaft bottom.

Gob
That part of the mine occupied by broken material that previously overlay the coal seam.

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H

Head frame
A structure of wood or steel erected over a shaft to support the pulley wheels by which the cages are raised or lowered; also called Headgear.

Heaving
The gradual lifting of the floor of a seam where coal has been removed.

Helper
A miner's assistant, or one who works under a trained workman.

Hewer
A collier who cuts coal by hand pick.

Hoist
A machine used to hoist coal underground or to haul the cages in shafts; originally driven by steam but later by electricity or compressed air.

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I

Inbye
In a direction toward the workings, or away from the shaft bottom. Also Outbye, the opposite.

Incline
A rising entry tunnel or haulage road. In the Lethbridge field, a sloping railway up which rakes of coal cars were hauled by endless cable.

Isolated deposit
A small area of isolated coal deposition, for example, the Pothole Coulee area.

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K

Kerf
The undercut made to assist the breaking of coal.

Kneepads
Leather or rubber protection worn over the knees when working in thin seams.

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L

Lagging
Timber planks or slabs used for immediate support at the face; used as crosspieces on long wall timbering. (See Strap.)

Leg
A wooden prop supporting one end of a cross-timber.

Loader
Miner who shovels coal into cars for transport out of mine.

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M

Measure
A series of rock strata having some common feature; a general term for the sedimentary rock within a coal field. See Coal zone.

Miner
A worker in a mine with a valid certificate of competency as a miner.

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N

Naked light
A candle or any form of light that is not a safety lamp.

Nut coal
Small coal that will pass through screens with openings that vary from one-half to two inches (1.5 to 5.0 cm).

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O

Overcast
A support for a passage extending above another passage.

Overman
One who is in charge of the mine when men are in it.

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P

Parting
A thin stratum of clay or stone in a seam of coal. Also called a Band.

Pea coal
Small pieces of coal about 1/2-in to 3/4-in (0.5 to 0.7 cm) in size.

Pillar
A section of the seam left between rooms (stalls) while the coal in the rooms is being extracted. Pillars can be 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 m) in width. Size of pillars is determined by the stability of the surrounding rock.

Pillar removal or Robbing
The removal of pillars after the rooms have been worked out; usually begins at the furthest extent of mining and proceeds hack to the entrance. This begins the natural phenomenon of mine subsidence.

Pit
Term for a colliery; the coal mine in general.

Pit-boss
Holder of a second-class mining certificate and in charge of the underground workings of a particular mine; second to the manager in authority and deals with the day-to-day problems in the mine; an under-manager.

Pithead
The complex of buildings comprising the head frame and tipple of the mine; the coal-handling facilities at the surface of the mine.

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R

Return air
Air that has passed through the workings. Rib. The sides of a pillar or roadway.

Room
A stall, breast, or working place, where coal is mined.

Room and Pillar
A system of working by which solid blocks of coal are left on either side of the entries and the rooms where the coal is extracted to act as supports. When the rooms are worked out, the pillars are mined. Sometimes called Pillar and Stall.

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S

Safety lamp or Davey lamp
A lamp in which the flame is protected by fine wire mesh so that a mixture of firedamp can he detected by its burning inside the lamp; generally used to detect the presence of dangerous gas in the mine by the miner observing the color and character of the flame. The wire gauze prevents the heat from the flame from passing to the outside air, thus preventing ignition of firedamp.

Screenings
The tine coal that passes through the screens when it. is being sorted into various sizes.

Screens
Device or system of separating coal into different sizes, or grades, for marketing.

Seam
The deposit of coal in the strata.

Seepage
Groundwater, or runoff, entering the mine workings and accumulating in the lower levels.

Shaft
A vertical or nearly vertical hole in which the men and material are hoisted and through which air is drawn into the mine.

Shift-boss or Mine captain
Miner in charge of a particular shift, for example, the afternoon shift; under the pit-boss in the hierarchy of mine supervision.

Shooting
Blasting in a mine.

Shot lighter
A man appointed by the manager to fire the shots in a section of the mine.

Slack
Fine coal; the fine coal resulting from handling and degradation of soft coal.

Slope
A roadway driven to the dip of the seam as opposed to an incline.

Sprag
A short wooden prop set at an angle to support the coal during the operation of holing; a short piece of hardwood pointed at the ends to act as a brake when placed in the spokes of a car.

Stall
A working compartment in a coal mine usually used in seams six feet (1.8 m) or more in thickness, sometimes called a room. (Stalls were about 14 feet (4.2 m) wide.)

Strap
Pieces of wood, usually six feet lengths of2x6-in (1.8-m by 5xl5-cm) timber, used as cross-pieces in timbering over the props on a long wall face; also used between the stringers and entries or levels; also called lagging.

Strike
The direction or trend that a structural surface, e.g., bedding plane or fault plane, takes as it intersects the horizontal.

Stowing
The debris of mining thrown into the waste area behind the face to help support the roof.

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T

Tear Fault
A very steep fault associated with a low angle overthrust fault. It strikes perpendicular to the strike of the overthrust.

Throw
The vertical distance between two ends of a seam displaced by faulting. Referred to as Downthrow, Upthrow.

Timber-man
One whose job is exclusively setting timbers, usually of a repair nature in haulage roads and airways.

Tipple
The dump trestle and tracks at the mouth of a shaft or slope, where the output of a mine is dumped. screened and loaded; also applied to the whole structure of the head frame containing the tipple.

Trip
A number of coupled coal cars taken at one time.

Trip Rider or Rope Rider
A worker who rides on a trip to attend to rope attachments and signals.

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U

Upcast
The shaft through which the return air ascends.

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W

Washer or Washery
Plant where the coal is washed and graded; heavy waste material is separated while light waste is floated off.

Whitedamp
Air in a mine containing carbon monoxide, a product of incomplete combustion, extremely poisonous.

Workings
General term used to describe the areas where coal is being mined.
 

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