Chilean Copper Mine Collapse and Rescue

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Topics: Mining, Rescue, Chile
The tragedy with the happy ending all started August 5, 2010, when the mine collapses 33 workers are trapped at the Chilean copper mine 300 meters below the ground level. Safety codes require ladders for mines, and the miners attempted escape through the ventilation shaft system, but the ladders were missing. The mining operation soon became known as “Camp Hope,” for the next 69 days the dry, dusty, work site would be where rescue workers, officials, authorities, media, friends, and family of the trapped miners would call home.
A small copper operation in northern Chile, owned by Minera San Esteban Primera, is in what many call the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert. Some years earlier, the mine was shut down because of several accidents, including one death in March 2007. Later, in 2007 the mine reopened and the mine workers went back to mining the copper. In August 2010 when the accident occurred there were two groups of workers in the mine; the first group were near the entrance could escape, but the second group were so deep in the mine escape though the normal entrance was not an option. The workers quickly went to the ventilation shaft system only to find the ladders were not in place as requested in the orders written by the federation of Chilean mining workers and the confederation of copper works when the mine reopened. By the time rescue teams could respond these shafts were not accessible because of ground movement cause by the cave-in.

“The Chilean government took over the rescue effort on the first day and poured enormous resources into the operation” (Kofman). By day two, rescuers had started drilling “boreholes” in the attempt to locate the miners and allowing listening devices to be sent down in efforts to hear if any of the miners had survived. A second collapse causes access to the lower shafts to be blocked and shut down operations. The trapped worker’s knew that rescue operations were in play because the 33 men

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