Actually no, in this instance you couldn't. We were too big for the bridge and had to turn around to find a new route.
Arriving in Iquira and meeting the cooperative mine owners.
Pre bbq at the Iquira refinery. One of 8 refineries in this cooperative.
Under Gustavo's Wing
Meet Gustavo, one of the Iquiras cooperative mine owners. A big personality who nearly adopted Wing :-)
The rocks are transported for the mines, emptied into a pit and go through several crushing machines to refine them into stone sized chunks.
The pebble sized rock goes into a barrelling machine with these steel balls, crushing the rock yet again into even small sunbstance.
The stones and balls tumbling in the barreller.
The refined particles fall out onto the sluice table for the next stage
The crushed particles are fed with water onto the moving table. It has a slight slope so as it shakes back and forth the particles move into different areas due to their weight and gravity pulling it all down to the edge with the water.
The sluice table separates the material into two deposits, the lighter goes back through the a second time and the heavy deposits end up here, ready for cyanide treatment.
Part of the Fairmined certification has made the refinery reduce, reuse and recycle their materials, cyanide being now used in a controlled and responsible way.
Now the water is filtered and recycled, being pumped back into the system after gong through an irrigation style system. The fine materials left over is then ready to be heated and poured into small gold ingots.
Here the final stage of the refinery takes place with the gold being smelted from the end result of the materials.
Heading to the mine
We were in for a bumpy ride on the way to one of the 8 cooperative mines, getting stuck in the washed away dirt track.
A map of the cooperatives mines in the region
A sweet chocolate tasting coca fruit being grown.
A model miner
Lisa sporting the new hard hats and lights we were given
Health and safety
Health and safety induction before entering the mine. A good example of the cooperative talking things seriously in their operation.
The first of many mine dogs we met along the way.
The Iquira mine we got to visit. There 8 others that have Fairmined certification.
The layout of the mine. We stayed on the track system but they are continuing to excavate new areas and following the veins to find gold.
The cooperative owners and our 1st group before entering.
The mine shaft
A really well excavated tunnel with oxygen and water being pumped in and lighting throughout.
1st aid and escape refuge.
A safe room for the miners should they need any 1st aid or to escape any collapse.
The quartz vein that holds the gold
They have gas testers to record the quantities of various gases in the tunnels.
An upper level tunnel following another vein.
At the edn of each day they will drill up to 18 holes in the end of the tunnel wall and fill them with a foot plus worth of explosives to set off and let everything settle overnight, ready to remove the rock the following day.
Meet the miners
We met several miners in the tunnel who were kind enough to talk with us and tell us about why working in a mine with a Fairmined certification was good for them.
Rubble and rock
Bags of rock on the cart ready to be wheeled out to the vehicles to be taken to the refinery.
End of the line
The carts are wheeled to the end and dumped down the hill to the vehicles.
Nuf said, just liked the composition :-)
Photo of the photographers. Ana, Lisa, Emmy and Jessica.
Far off in the distance is the town of Iquira. Have a look at the video of zooming into the town. I didn't realise it was Iquira until seeing the church when leaving that night, realising that you can see the town from the mine.
Outisde the mine
Another composition that I liked.
It wasn't until the journey back that I realised why there was religious icons in the car, the journey is dangerous and worth praying for safety each time. Little did I realise however that this car journey was nothing compared to what we yet had to come.
Riding in style
Bikes and boots, by any means necessary.
Maddy probably getting the best ride of everyone to and from the mines.
Kenneth making the most of the sunshine on our way back.
Seeing the church when we left was the moment of clarity that it had been Iquira that I had filmed form outside the mine.
Several hours after leaving the town we stopped at a side of the road shop. Beer was the drink of choice :-)
A new favourite Colombian beer, not that I had a previous, Poker cervesa.
A bed's a bed.
We got in late, ate late and were all exhausted. Nothing luxurious, but was fine for the night for Herlian, Kenneth and me. Up at 6 the next morning.