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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Nevada Consolidated Copper Company
Eureka Pit Explosion

Ely, Nevada
July 7, 1912
No. Killed - 10



While loading a surface drill hole, 10 men were killed by a premature explosion.  The cause was not determined, because all evidence was destroyed by the explosion.

The known facts were as follows:

A group of men were engaged in charging the hole, which was in the capping on what was called the Berry High Line level.  Holes of this type held a relatively large quantity of powder and were usually loaded by five or six men, who dropped the powder into the hole.

In this case, Trojan powder had been first charged, and there remained, it is believed, five boxes of Hercules Special reported to contain 20 percent nitroglycerin and 20 percent ammonium nitrate.  Two boxes were unexploded.

The reason for believing that three boxes exploded is that three craters were blown out in the ground; but it might have happened that the boxes were piled one on another, in which case each crater would represent more than one box.

What actually caused 'the dynamite to explode remained unknown.

Source:
Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States, Volume III


Explosion Kills Nine Men in Ely Copper Pit
Nevada State Journal Reno, Nevada
July 8, 1912

Ely, Nev., July 7. -- A. H. Cooke, powder man of the Nevada Consolidated copper flat pit, seven Austrians and one Greek were instantly killed this afternoon, when a heavy charge in a churn drill hole exploded.

The hole contained several hundred pounds of black powder and a large quantity of dynamite.

One Austrian in the crew escaped death.  C. B. Phay, drill operator, who was fifty feet from the scene of the explosion, was injured by flying rocks, but not seriously.

The cause of the premature explosion is not known.  It is possible that a cinder from a passing engine on another pit level caused it.

The accident occurred on the level next to the top.  There are seven levels, each sixty feet above the other.

Cook's remains, partially dismembered, were identified by the clothing.  He was from Roanoke, Va., had been here two years and was about to return to his old home in the east.

A portion of a car was found 1000 feet away, where it had been blown by the force of the explosion.

The pit where the accident occurred is fifty feet deep below the entrance, while on the west side it raises more than 400 feet.

Churn drills are used ahead of the steam shovels.  The holes are drilled and fired to loosen the ore, which is then handled by steam shovels.

Sometimes as much as a ton of dynamite and black powder is used in a charge.



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