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A-level Geology work experience- Ash Davies

Published: November 13, 2018

Cornwall College St Austell 16-18

Well done to A-level Geology student Ash Davies from our St Austell campus, who has just completed his work experience at Mining Searches UK.

Read how Ash got on in his own words below:


Work experience at Mining Searches, UK (Redruth)

Ash Davies
(2nd year A Level Geology Student)

Being in Redruth can only mean one of two things: Pasties and mining heritage. Luckily, there was plenty of both throughout the week.

In the shadow of Carn Brea itself is Mining Searches UK: a small, home-spun company formed in 1978, consisting of around a dozen staff, twice as many cabinets as there are staff full of maps and enough experience to pinpoint underground features blindfolded. Brian, the head geologist (who put the week together), has been at the company for around 25 years. There’s a range of aspects that the company covers: from digital mapping through QGIS, using CAD to build models of features and their locations (down to centimetre accuracy), all the way up to being out in the field, looking for ore lodes and features, and taking hammers to the natural bedrock. (which is surprisingly fun).

It was a late start, but Tuesday is where it began; it was a general ‘be-shown-around-and-greet-everyone’ morning to begin with, along with the necessary safety inductions. After that however, is where the fun began; my first taste of being ‘in-the-field’, was with Becky, in Pool. The site is for a farming machinery showroom, which happened to be right on top of two cassiterite veins and various tunnels. Luckily, these will be filled in with concrete, so there’s not real risk of land movement and subsidence. The only regret I had from this was not picking up one of the multitudes of samples of the ore that were dug up – the joys of digging into the edge of an intrusion…

Wednesday was closer to home; Charlestown. This time with Aaron (who subjectively being a younger member of the team made him more… approachable), along with Graham (the man with the whacking great drill). We were down by T’Gallants, in the cottage directly adjacent. An interesting fact about Charlestown is that there are two adits that keep the harbour filled at a constant lever: one from a local reservoir, and another that connects with the former mining complex around Bethel – which is why the harbour water can sometimes appear slightly orange in colour after heavy rainfall. Anyway, the job was eventually called off owing to an issue with the owner of Tall Ships not ‘being briefed’ (despite MSUK went down a week prior as a scout and to inform the area around the site being drilled).

Now we hit the office work on a sunny Thursday: Matt was the overseer this section, using QGIS. This involves geo-referencing (or overlaying a map raster layer from a repository of maps from 1913) to make sure the maps are all correct. There was no problem with this, although I’m officially bored of looking at Berkshire on a map. Luckily, Brian had a saving grace by dumping (quite literally) all the books from his office on my desk and wanted a table of references made up for them (essentially Harvard referencing but in Excel form). Other than that, Thursday was spent in the office, focusing on the ‘not-digging-up-some-poor-soul’s’ field part of the job. That’s the great thing about MSUK: there’s a good variation on what’s to be done on a day-to-day basis (which Aaron and Brian both agree with) – keeps the job interesting and engaging because of the degree of scope.

Ahh, Friday. Officially best day of the week; and for good reason! An early start with Aaron again, with the first stop being down at Carbis, doing another site investigation. We unearthed some tunnels, along with the opening to a shaft that’d been thoroughly bunged-up. After that, we went over to Praa Sands to see a drilling site that’d went through, which was searching for a former mine shaft. Long story short with this shaft, it was used as a store for sewage in the 40’s and 50’s, but after new pipes were put in, they needed to drain the shaft because it… well, smells. Badly. Other than that, it was back to the map geo-referencing for the rest of the day.

Overall however, it was a well-balanced and insightful week; the team were all approachable and willing to help in whatever way they could, and even hearing them talk about various features on a site just sounds like they know exactly what they are looking for and… it’s hard to express, but the team are very good at conveying trust – mind you, they should be if they’re digging up your lawn to search for a mine feature…


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