Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
What followed was just serious, tough mining work.
The harvesting of fire opal mainly revolved around picking them up, while the harvesting of black opal was completely dependent on labor.
Due to the autumn winds blowing across the coastal regions of Australia, the coastal regions had already started becoming cold. Despite that, the southwest and northwest regions still had very high temperatures like before.
There was only one reason for the above phenomenon. As the southwest and northwest regions were surrounded either by barren lands or deserts, their temperatures would increase drastically as long as there was a little bit of sunlight.
With Brother Wolf operating the small excavator, the alloy backhoe slammed onto the ground with a crash, dug up a pile of shattered rocks, and created a large pit.
One of the factors that enabled Lightning Ridge to become a prosperous black opal producing land was its sturdy ground, which allowed holes to be dug into it.
Although black opal veins were also found in other parts of Australia, the ground in those areas was too soft. Consequently, it was impossible for mines to be opened and tunnels to be dug, which in turn made it impossible to go deep underground to harvest black opal.
If the rocks could not be removed, the black opals that were hidden within them were naturally not able to be harvested.
The formation of black opals was similar to that of fire opals. Under specific geological conditions, water streams would remove silicon dioxide from sandstone while flowing across the ground. The water streams, which were rich in silicon dioxide, would then seep into the cracks and holes in the rocks underneath the ground. After the water had evaporated, the silicon oxide that was left behind would form beautiful gemstones.
Compared to fire opals, it was much more difficult for black opals to be formed. Approximately 400 to 500 million years was required just to form a gemstone layer that was one meter thick.
As the quality of the land and geological conditions in Lightning Ridge was different from that of the national park, the shape of the black opals formed in Lightning Ridge was different from the shape of fire opals formed in the national park.
The fire opals in the national park were usually found individually and had a blocky, round, or oval shape, whereas the black opals in Lightning Ridge existed in thin layers in black opal veins.
Therefore, one had to be very careful when digging a black opal vein. The layers in the black opal veins were so thin, the gemstones could be damaged if one was not careful.
As Li Du knew that there was no black opal vein where they were, he only ordered Brother Wolf to dig with the small excavator.
With the excavator constantly bombarding the ground, before long, a large pit 1.5 meters deep was dug.
At this stage, because the excavator's arm was only 1.5 meters long, the excavator could no longer be used. Subsequently, the digging of the pit required the use of manual labor.
The Australian government placed great importance on the protection of the environment. Just like the harvesting of black gold abalone had many rules, the harvesting of black opal also had many rules.
For example, harming green vegetation on the mine's ground was prohibited. In other words, digging from the surface was prohibited in places that were covered in grass or that had trees.
Fortunately, Lightning Ridge was located on a barren land that did not have much green vegetation, so the number of places that could be dug was relatively greater.
The digging of a large pit was followed by a change in machinery. Godzilla walked over carrying a rock hand drill machine.
Rock hand drill machines were excellent ramming machines. After placing a rock hand drill machine into the rock pit, supporting it, and plugging it into a power source, the drill would start spinning and drilling into the pit.
While Li Du went to plug the machine into a power source, Godzilla used both of his large, steel tong-like arms to grab hold of the machine. With a roaring sound, the machine's drill began drilling into the pit.
While the rocks underneath the machine were shattered by the sharp alloy drill, large amounts of shattered rocks shot out of the pit and onto Godzilla's body, producing rattling sounds. Unaware of it, Godzilla continued working.
"Is this a time to be a hero?" Li Du bellowed before taking a piece of iron sheet and placing it over the pit. All of a sudden, as if hailstones were falling from the sky, banging sounds could be heard.
Different tools were required at different stages. After spending an entire day digging, the pit had become three meters deep. As the pit was sufficiently deep, Li Du motioned to the others to stop working.
The gemstone vein in the number 114 mine was only approximately three meters from the surface. As such, by digging towards the north at that depth, Li Du would reach it sooner or later, as long as the direction they were digging in was correct.
With the sun having gone below the hills in the west, Li Du brought the others down the hill. From tonight onwards, they were unable to all stay in town. In order to prevent people from stealing their equipment at night, someone had to stay at the mine to keep watch.
The number 115 mine was not completely worthless and had something decent, which was a small, very sturdy cabin that could be used as lodging after it had been cleaned up.
Li Du and his group decided to stay in the cabin. Li Du and Sophie would stay in one room while Brother Wolf, Godzilla, and Lu Guan would randomly choose two people to stay in another room while the remaining person would keep watch outside.
The weather was gloomy at night. After checking the weather forecast, Sophie said, "Starting tomorrow, there is a possibility of rain. I will go and buy some umbrellas and raincoats in the morning."
While the sky was still bright, the group lit up a campfire inside the mine and sat around it grilling food and drinking beer.
While Ali was hopping around Sophie, Ah Meow took the opportunity when no one was looking to give it a slap, which sent it towards the campfire.
Li Du, who had sharp eyes and agile hands, pulled Ali back before glaring at Ah Meow and saying, "What are you doing? How could you be so mean?"
While pretending to not hear Li Du, Ah Meow swayed his tail and burrowed into Sophie's arms.
As Ali now knew that Li Du would also protect it, it would hop to Li Du's side from time to time.
While sitting next to Li Du, Ali would use its mouth to groom its short fur. When it occasionally glanced back, Ali spotted a pair of glossy green eyes.
Startled, Ali jumped up and hid in the middle of Li Du's legs.
Li Du glared at the pair of glossy green eyes. After howling at the top of her voice, Ah Ow went over with Ah Meow to Sophie for protection.
While lying in front of Sophie with his stomach facing up and enjoying the satisfying feeling of Sophie's belly rub, Crispy Noodles rolled his eyes, looked askance at Ah Meow and Ah Ow, and felt superior to them in terms of intelligence. Two idiots!
A short while later, Ah Ow stood up and stared warily with her glossy green eyes at the small road that connected the mines.
Before long, a few miners appeared on the road. From the entrance of the mine, they greeted Li Du. "Hey, mate, mind sharing the fire?"
The temperature difference between the day and night was huge in desert regions. Once the sun had set and night had fallen, the temperature would decrease drastically, and a campfire had to be lit to keep warm.
After Li Du nodded, the miners walked over.
The miners sat near the campfire, took out metal flasks from their pockets, briefly placed them over the fire, and started drinking from them.
Since Li Du had a lot of food, such as meat and hamburgers, he gestured to the miners to roast and eat whatever they pleased. Having thanked him, the miners, who were elated, began drinking beer and roasting meat.
Later on, some more people came over. As Li Du was providing free roasted meat, the miners called their friends, who were working night shifts in the mine, and told them to come over.
Just like that, there were more and more people in Li Du's mine. In the end, there were over a dozen people gathered at Li Du's mine.
After Li Du, who would not reject guests, told Brother Wolf to drive to town and buy some roasted meat, he drank beer and chit-chatted with the others.
Li Du asked the miners about Blanchett. Sure enough, like Bob had said, Blanchett had a bad reputation and loved using dirty tricks. When Blanchett was mentioned, the miners shook their heads one after another.
The miners revealed a lot of information while they drank and chit-chatted. After sitting nearby and quietly listening to them, Li Du realized that finding a gemstone-rich mine here was pretty much an impossible task.
As it was getting late, Sophie got ready to go back. She said, "Li, I will be taking Ah Meow back. Keep an eye on Ali, Ah Ow, and Crispy Noodles. I'm afraid that there might be snakes in the cabin."
A miner laughed and said, "If your mine has snakes, then I will have to congratulate you guys. Groups of snakes guard black opals. Having snakes means that you guys will be able to find black opal in your mine."
Hearing this saying piqued Li Du's interest.
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