Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Now Drilling Begins in The Chilean Mine Rescue

The brave men underground in the Chilean Mine Cave-in will have to have lots of patience and stamina to face the challenges ahead. The rescue efforts are starting up and could take months to complete, and keeping their spirits up in that time becomes a priority. More on those efforts in the article below.
   . . . June


Drilling Begins in Chile Mine Rescue
Published: August 31, 2010  By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

"SAN JOSE MINE, Chile (AP) -- The effort to save 33 Chilean men trapped deep in a mine is an unprecedented challenge, mining safety experts said Tuesday. It means months of drilling, then a harrowing three-hour trip in a cage up a narrow hole carved through solid rock.

If all of that is successful, the freed men will emerge from the earth and ''feel born again,'' said an American miner who was part of a group dramatically rescued in 2002 with similar techniques. But that rescue pulled men from a spot only one-tenth as deep."

''They're facing the most unusual rescue that has ever been dealt with,'' said Dave Feickert, director of KiaOra, a mine safety consulting firm in New Zealand that has worked to improve China's dangerous mines. ''Every one of these rescues presents challenging issues. But this one is unique.''

First, engineers must use a 31-ton drill to create a ''pilot'' hole from the floor of the Atacama Desert down 2,200 feet (700 meters) to the area in the San Jose mine where the men wait.

Then, the drill must be fitted with a larger bit to carve out a rescue chimney that will be about 26 inches (66 centimeters) wide -- a task that means guiding the drill through solid rock while keeping the drill rod from snapping or getting bogged down as it nears its target.

Finally, the men must be brought up one at a time inside a specially built cage -- a trip that will take three hours each. Just hauling the men up will itself -- if there are no problems -- take more than four days.

''Nothing of this magnitude has happened before; it's absolutely unheard of,'' said Alex Gryska, a mine rescue manager with the Canadian government.

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