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article imagePrecision drilling fails to reach trapped miners in Chile

By Igor I. Solar     Aug 19, 2010 in World
Santiago - The relatives of the 33 miners trapped for nearly two weeks at a depth of about 700 meters inside a copper and gold mine in Chile were overwhelmed with dismay today after recent attempts failed to reach the site where they may have found refuge.
There are nine drilling probes operating at different points at the site of the San José mine. Some of the equipment belongs to large Chilean copper mining companies, but two high-accuracy instruments (Down-hole drilling motor) were brought from the United States and Australia to support the efforts to rescue 33 workers that are trapped underground since August 5 when the main tunnel collapsed about 300 meters deep. It has been assumed that the miners should have found life sustaining supplies (water, food, oxygen) at an emergency shelter located at a depth of about 700 meters.
The probing has been carried out using reverse-air drilling machinery and drillers equipped with diamond drilling bits. However, attempting to reach a specific point several hundred meters deep is a major challenge since being a couple of centimetres off at the start may result in reaching a point 15 to 30 meters away from the target. The probe closest to the desired depth reached 740 meters this morning according to La Nación (in Spanish). It was pointed to any of three tunnels of 5 meters located around the shelter. Unfortunately, none of those was contacted. It had been expected that if the probe succeeded in reaching the right spot, a system carrying a light, TV camera and microphone would be inserted to establish communication with any surviving miners.
The relatives of the miners were informed of the setback and received the news with great dismay and disappointment. Most of the blame pointed to the owners of the mine, Minera San Esteban – Primera."We are working blind, because the plans of the mine are incorrect or they have not been updated" the relatives claim.
Laurence Golborne, Minister of Mining, has remained at the site of the excavations for several days and has committed the resolve of the government to continue the rescue efforts for as long as it takes.“We’ll continue working for as long as there is minimum of hope; it’s our responsibility” Golborne said.
Several units of drilling equipment work simultaneously at the San José Mine in the Atacama Desert ...
Several units of drilling equipment work simultaneously at the San José Mine in the Atacama Desert, near the city of Copiapó
Diario Atacama
One of the remaining drilling equipment, working at a different location over the mine, has gone as deep as 530 meters attempting to reach another probable spot. If this and the other machines fail to establish contact, allowing at least the provision of food and water to any survivors, the rescue may be delayed for as long as 8 to 10 months.
More about Chile, Copper gold mining, Trapped Miners
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