Over And Up

Planning key to successful rescue operations

On August 5, 2010 a northern Chile mine collapsed, trapping all 33 miners inside. What could have been a tragedy has become an amazing tale of survival. In late August, rescue workers made their first contact with the miners, lowering food, water and medicine. A few weeks later rescue workers finished drilling the escape shaft, and miners were brought to the surface one by one in a specially designed capsule.

What does it take to bring 33 miners 700 metres below the surface up from the underground? Cooperation, expertise and planning, to start with. “The Chilean Mine Rescue operation was a great example of leadership, teamwork and collaboration,” says Vic Pakalnis, Professor in Mining and Sustainability at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., referring to the rescue operation that took place in October, 2010 at the San Jose mine in Chile. “The Chilean President Sebastian Pinera indicated, ‘If there is any technology, any knowledge that will help, we will use it.’ He was true to his word and expertise and equipment from a number of countries participated in the rescue operation.”

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