After a mining-industry career spanning 50 years, E&MJ’s European editor is pulling the plug on his keyboard. This is his personal review of events and technology during that time.

I arrived on planet Earth at the start of 1950, born — for no particular reason other than my father being stationed at a nearby military base — in the Notting-hamshire coalfields in England. A change in posting soon after meant exchanging pit heaps for the architecture of Cornwall’s copper- and tin-mining industry, even then slipping into drawn-out but final decline. The view from our window looked out across the countryside, not on ruined engine houses, but to the outline of the waste tips from the china clay pits 10 or more miles away, heaps that in those days rose from the surrounding fields like a row of pointed, off-white volcanoes.

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