Chilean president optimistic about miners rescue operations

15:45, September 01, 2010      

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Chilean President Sebastian Pinera expressed on Tuesday his optimism as an operation has started to rescue 33 miners trapped in a copper mine in northern Chile.

"We are in the right path; last night the Raise Borer Strata 950 machines have begun working, they are drilling the rock and it has to reach 700 meters underground to rescue our 33 miners," Pinera said.

However, Pinera said that although the rescue work has already begun, time is needed, perhaps three or four months, to rescue the miners trapped in the mine 26 days ago.

The 30-ton machine reportedly aimed to drill a well to reach the miners through a tube of almost 30 centimeters in diameter.

When entering the mine, the tube will be expanded between 66 and 70 centimeters in diameter so the miners could be rescued one by one.

Pinera said that "another machine is coming, which will allow us to scan the drilling, so we can expand the section of that drilling and have another rescue alternative."

The drilling machine can advance some 20 meters per day during the initial-stage drilling and some five meters for the expansion drilling.

Meanwhile, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said that "all the elements must be analyzed to determine the total time it will take -- unexpected situation, mechanic failures and maintenance time."

"The estimations were done by engineers, who also considered the characteristics of the terrain in this part of Chile and experiences of other drilling operations in the zone," Golborne said.1

Meanwhile, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) has sent experts to aid the rescue work, based on NASA's experience about the survival of astronauts in small space for a long time.

The 33 miners have been trapped some 700 meters underground after a collapse at the San Jose gold and silver mine in northern Chile since Aug.5.

Since then, food, water, and other supplies have been sent to them through a rocket-shaped metal tube.

The Chilean authorities lowered a cable 700 meters underground to allow a one-minute conversation for each miner to speak with their relatives on Sunday.

The miners have been told to have to endure captivity for the next four months, as the authorities are drilling a tunnel to rescue them.

Source: Xinhua


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