Mining Expert On Chilean Mine Rescue

Miner portraitAn enormous drill began preliminary work Monday at the San Jose Mine in Chile to carve a half-mile chimney through solid rock to free the 33 men trapped in a Chilean mine, their ordeal now having equaled the longest known survival in an underground disaster.  The 31-ton drill bored 50 feet into the rock, the first step in the weeklong digging of a “pilot hole” to guide the way for the rescue. Later the drill will be outfitted with larger bits to expand the hole and pull the men through — a process that could take four months.

The drilling technique that must be used means that up to 4,000 tons of rock and debris will fall down into a large mine shaft near the shelter — but far enough away from the men that they will not be in any danger.  Mining expert Dave Feickert, director of KiaOra, a mine safety consulting firm in New Zealand, who has worked extensively with China’s government to improve dangerous mines there, said “The drill operators have the best equipment available internationally.”

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