Mining Terms

Common terms and words used relating to mining and mining operations that may also be used in the pages of this site.  
ADIT A level; a horizontal drift or passage from the surface into a mine. 
ADVERSE To oppose the granting of a patent to a mining claim. 
AIR SHAFT A shaft for ventilation. 

ALLOY A combination of two or more metals fused together. 

ALLUVIUM Materials transported or deposited by water. 

AMALGAM  Gold or silver combined with quicksilver. 

APEX The top or highest point of a vein. 

ARASTRA  A primitive rotary mill where rocks are dragged around to crush ores. 

ARGENTIFEROUS Containing silver. 

ASSAY A test of mineral to determine quality and quantitv. 

ASSESSMENT Required yearly work. 

AURIFEROUS Containing gold. 

BASE BULLION Lead combined with other metals after smelting. Cast in an ingot.


BATTERY A set of stamps for crushing ore - most times arranged in groups of four or five.


BLIND LODE A vein without an outcrop. 


BLOSSOM ROCK Detached rock or ore indicating the presence of mineral veins. 

BONANZA A rich deposit of high-grade ore, a mine that yields great profits.


BOND A written conditional option. 

BOOM A term used to define a place that has seen great excitement or activity due to a recent mineral find.


BREAST The face of a tunnel or drift. 

BUDDLING Separating ore by washing. 

BULLION Ingots of gold or silver ready for the mint. 

BUMPING TABLE A concentrating table with a jolting motion. 

BUST A term used to describe an area or town that has been abandoned because paying ore has been exhausted or the vein has been lost. Usually in favor of another more promising location.


CALCAREOUS Rock containing lime. 

CARBONATES Ore containing a considerable proportion of carbonate of lead, -or of rich silver. 

CHIMNEY The richer parts in lodes as distinguished from poorer ones. 

CHLORIDES A common term applied to ores containing chloride of silver. 

CLAIM Ground held by a location. 

COBBING Breaking ore for sorting. 

COLOR A particle of metallic gold found in the prospector's pan or horn after washing earth or pulverized rock. 

CONCENTRATOR Machine for removing waste matter from mineral. 

CONTACT A junction of two kinds of rock, such as lime and porphyry. 

CORD A cord weighs about eight tons. 

COUNTRY ROCK The rock on each side of a vein.


CREVICE A narrow opening, resulting from a split or crack in the rock; a fissure.


CRIBBING The timbers used to confine wall rock, plank lining of the walls of a shaft or adit, or to hold back waste rock around mining dumps . 

CROPPING-OUT Mineral or rock rising to the surface. 

CROSS-CUT A level driven across the course of a vein. 


DEVELOPMENT Work done in opening up access into a mine.


DILUVIUM A surface deposit of sand, gravel or loam. 

DIP The slope or pitch of a vein or mine. 

DRIFT A tunnel; a horizontal passage underground. 

DYKE A wall-like mass of mineral foreign to the general formation. 

FACE The end of a drift or tunnel. 

FAULT The displacement of a stratum or vein. 

FISSURE VEIN A crack or cleft in the earth's crust filled with mineral matter distinguished from other veins because it cuts all other formations instead of yielding to them. 

FLOAT Loose ore or rock detached from the original formation. 

FLUME A pipe or trough to convey water. 

FLUX Substance used to promote the fusion of ores. 

FOOT-WALL Layer of rock beneath the vein. 

FREE-MILLING Ores that will separate by simple methods. 

GANGE The waste stuff of an ore. 

HANGING WALL The layer of rock, or wall, over a lode. 

HEADING A vein of ore above the drift. 

HORSE A body of rock of same character as the wall-rock occurring in the course of the vein. 

IN PLACE A vein, or ore, in its original position. 

JIG A machine for concentrating ore by means of water. 

JUMP Locating on another's claim. 

LEVEL A horizontal passage or drift into a mine from a shaft. 


LITTLE GIANT A jointed iron nozzle used in hydraulic mining. 

LODE, LEAD, LEDGE A body of ore. 

MILL RUN A test of the value of a given quantity of ore. 

ORES Compound ot metal with oxygen, sulphur, arsenic, etc. 

OUTCROP That portion of a vein showing at the surface. 

PANNING Separating gold from gange or gravel by washing. 

PAY STREAK The richest streak in the vein. 

PATENT The government's deed. 

PINCH Contraction of the vein. 

PITCH The slope or dip of the vein. 

PLACER A surface mine. 

POCKET A rich spot in a vein or deposit. 

PROSPECTING Searching for mineral veins. 

RAISE Excavating or tunneling a shaft upwards from an exhisting level. (See also UPRAISE)


RESERVES Mineral standing in mines between shafts and levels that will pay to extract. 


RETORT Amalgam after distillation; gold combined with other metals. 


SALTING Placing foreign ore in the crevices of a vein. 


SAMPLING WORKS or SAMPLING MILL Works for sampling and determining the values obtained in ores; where ores are bought and sold. 


SCHISTOSE Granite rock having a slaty structure. 

SHAFT A vertical or inclined passage into a mine. 

SHIFT A miner's work for one day. 

SLUICES Troughs in which ore is washed. 

SPIT To lignt a fuse. 


SPREADER Timber stretched across a shaft or slope. 

SPUR A branch of a vein. 

STAMP-MILL A mill for crushing ores by means of stamps. 

STOPING Excavating the ore from the roof or floor of a drift. 

TAILINGS The refuse left after washing ores containing metals not saved in the first treatment. 

TRIBUTER A miner working as a lessee. 

UPRAISE A shaft or winze excavated upwards. 

WASH Loose rock and dirt. 

WHIM A machine used for raising ore or refuse. 

WHIP Apparatus for hoisting ore from a shaft. 

WINZE An interior shaft sunk from one level to another.