Excerpt from Susan Ioannou’s book of poetry Looking Through Stone – Poems About the Earth. If you would like to order Susan Ioannou’s book of poetry, go to Your Scrivener Press
WORKING THE MINES:ENGINEERS
How far mining has come,
from a Stone Age cobblestoned stick
to the drill rig’s 40-kilogram tricone bit,
its bullet-shaped tungsten carbide teeth
ripping straight down through rock
100 rotations per minute;
how far, from bonfires lit overnight
to explosives remotely controlled
blasting whole walls of ore,
too massive for piling into slave’s baskets
but not for a 10-tonne Load-Haul-Dump
12-metre-long steel mucker.
Gold is explored no longer solely
by a lone man scouring a stream
and tilting a simple pan,
nor more subtly by Geiger counter
or a bush plane low overhead
swinging a magnetometer aft.
Even farther above,*
a satellite now probes Earth,
imaging hectares of lonely terrain
and beeping data to a computer
to e-mail prospectors on the ground
co-ordinates where to mallet in stakes.
in near darkness,
through GPS-gizmos on shovels and dozers
to surface computers
a satellite diagrams every move,
every hazard throughout the mine,
and fixes precision crosshairs
on where next to trigger
a blast in a seam.
Even the drill bit houses a delicate sensor
tracking each rock, stratum, and ore
it chews a hole through.
Once every drift is emptied,
and all the miners have gone,
a satellite plans and scans through time
the angles, cuts, cleaning, and seeding
for hills, valleys, wetlands, and bush
reclaimed, again to be green.
* The Mining Automation Program in Canada