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The tunnel bores deep into the mountain, wooden supports placed periodically along the length of the passage. Torches illuminate a set of rails leading into the distance, and what appears to be a journal lays on top of a mine cart filled with iron ore.

I look at the most recent entry

It takes you a moment to interpret the chicken scrawl, but you read yesterday's yield was clocked in at 1700lbs of ore.

Effectively I am trying to find out how many workers would need to be employed in the mine-shaft to produce 1700lbs in the average day. Each worker is a healthy human male with a steel pick-axe. Most are experienced in their trade.

Edit: The technology level is mid-medieval European I believe

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    $\begingroup$ uh... what kind of technology level are you working with? Do you have shovel and pickaxe only? Do you have dynamite? Do you have power tools? $\endgroup$ – subrunner Oct 22 at 10:04
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How long would it take a single person to mine and refine ore necessary to smith with? $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 22 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @SZCZERZOKŁY, I would disagree. this question implies full-scale mining (dispite absurdly small yield), unlike that question, that implies all work done by single person. Specialization greatly speed up the process. $\endgroup$ – ksbes Oct 22 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ @ksbes If you look at mine asnwet to that question you will see I pulled number from mines that were full-scale. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 22 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ That's one strange mine. Why on Earth are they mining iron ore from underground, especially in pre-modern times? Iron ore is and always was very very cheap; 1700 lbs of iron ore at the mouth of a mine would hardly buy food and shelter for more than two (frugal) persons, say a man and his wife. And in pre-modern times they did not have the ability to smelt large amounts of iron, so they simply had no reason to exhaust the surface ore deposits. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Oct 22 at 13:42
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There is a song "Sixteen Tons" about working in almost same conditions. As you can guess from its name 16 tons of coal (soft material) is close to physical maximum for a strong healthy human male.

But if you fantasy has better conditions for miners (and since its iron ore) - expect it to be from 2 to 10 tons of ore per 12h workday (depending on how deep and how organised work is).

So 1, 2 or 3 men would be enough for 800kg per day (there are things, like cooking, delivering things, building infrastructure (rails and supports), which is hard to do along the mining)

P.S. Just looked for loaders weight norm for now in my country. It happens to be 7t (15,500lbs) per 8h workday, about 2000 lbs/h.

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  • $\begingroup$ under modern-day conditions, I can imagine mining about 1t per hour. However, if they have torches illuminating the way I very much doubt that they can manage that much. $\endgroup$ – subrunner Oct 22 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ @subrunner how does torchlight reduces strength of pickaxe blow? In modern conditions there can be 10 tonns per miner per hour (they are using autoloaders and conveyors to handle such weights) $\endgroup$ – ksbes Oct 22 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ when I hear the word "torch", I am thinking of "burning piece of wood", not electricity. And a technology level that uses "burning piece of wood" to illuminate does not have any conveniences like autoloaders or conveyors. Thus, if they have torches only, I very much doubt they can produce 1t of coal per hour per person... $\endgroup$ – subrunner Oct 22 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ @subrunner, jackhammers were inveted at the edge of XIX and XX centuries, and were not widely used in mines till (19)30th. Pickaxe was the main instrument of a hero of "Sixteen tons" song. And those miners were filling 1t carrige and delivered it to surface 16 times a workday (wich was 16-20h long), so we get up to 1t/h with pickaxe. It's not that much if take in account rock density (2-4t per m^3). It's only 250-500 liters of stone - about 10 large bags. I (untrained office worker) personaly "mined" clay with speed 1 large bag in 2 minutes. They had 6+ min per bag. $\endgroup$ – ksbes Oct 22 at 12:41

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