Nick Allen - Terry Fox Secondary School

Probably the most iconic mining tool, the pickaxe, has been used as far back as the prehistoric times. Although not always used for mining as some people have perceived it to be, the “pick” was also used as an agricultural tool and even a weapon in medieval times.

The pickaxe, in its early stages of its creation, did not have a metal head on it. Instead, the head was crafted from large deer antlers. The mattock, an evolved tool of the pickaxe used mainly for digging and chopping, was also carved from antlers. They have been found in the British Isles, dating as far back as the Mesolithic Age. After shaving it down to the correct shape, it became a one-pointed pickaxe.

Perhaps the most exciting use of the pickaxe is in medieval warfare. The footmen would wield these effective weapons and deal devastating blows to their enemies, conquering the battlefields. The pickaxes were just as deadly as swords, with their long spikes able to cause large amounts of bodily harm. Nowadays, the only harm they cause is in video games.

The pickaxe is very versatile in the mining industry due to its’ two-pointed design. Some designs have two spikes on either end, giving it a nice balance and more weight behind your swing when mining. Other designs have the second spike pressed flatter, so it can effectively be used for prying. This combo is exceptionally good for mining because it allowed miners to use it for multiple actions to gather the resources. With a multiuse tool like the pickaxe, it also helped with weight reduction as the miner didn’t need to carry as many tools around.

With the advanced technologies of today, the pickaxe has taken a backseat in the mining industry as more mechanical, autonomous solutions have surfaced. There is no need for one now when you can send in a machine or power tool that can do everything the pick did better and at a larger rate. It is still used however, as a widely recognized symbol for mines and mining. Looks as though the pickaxe will always have a job in the industry.