Chilean Mine Rescue

Specialized knowledge saving the lives of 33 miners in 33 days.

Situation

On August 5, 2010, there was an urgent need for a rescue mission a half-mile under the earth's surface. Geotec Boyles Bros. S.A. in Chile and Peru, an IDS affiliate, reached out for help in creating a solution for the 33 trapped miners. Immediately, IDS devised a comprehensive plan knowing that time and resources were limited.

Solution

A team was constructed of the most skilled members of IDS including directional drillers, directional motor specialists, and survey tool specialists. Minera Collahuasi and Minera Escondida funded the project as well as provided an outstanding team of geologists and engineers on site. Directional drilling began and was quickly an around the clock operation for five days when another contractor's RC hole broke through to the trapped miners.

Once the 12-inch pilot hole was drilled, the crew began reaming to set the casing for stabilizing the larger hole. IDS, Layne and Geotec worked around the clock. That 12-inch hole was first a 5-inch hole with a 2,300 foot depth. Later, that hole grew to 28 inches in diameter through the reaming process.

While the drilling was going on and with the assistance of NASA engineers, the “Phoenix” rescue capsule was being built to send down the drilled space to the miners. To keep the drill from “walking” off course, the four drillers had to stay on their feet at the controls during their shifts.

There was inadequate mapping of the mine that lead to IDS innovation; a drill bit shattered on an undetected metal support beam and work was delayed for a couple days. Powerful magnets had to be lowered into the shaft to pull out the pieces of drill bit and a new bit was flown in from the U.S.
 

Once the drillers broke through, an international media frenzy ensued as the capsule was tested and preparations were made for the dramatic rescue watched by hundred of millions around the globe.

Key Events in the Chilean Miners Rescue

  • Day 1

    Aug. 5 - Cave-in traps 33 miners 1/2 mile underground. Layne's affiliate Geotec Boyles Bros. S.A. - the largest drilling company in Chile and Peru - loads Accu-dril directional drilling equipment for transport.
  • Day 3

    Aug. 7 - Geotec makes an urgent call to International Drilling Services (IDS) in Arizona.
  • Day 11

    Aug. 15 - IDS directional drilling manager accompanies the equipment, which is then flown from Satiago to Copiapo and transported to the mine. Meanwhile, Geotec uses a Schramm 685W and two diamond rigs (CS 3001 and CS 4002) for the first drilling stage.
  • Day 13

    Aug. 17 - Directional drilling begins on two separate HQ core holes and continues around the clock.
  • Day 18

    Aug. 22 - Chilean President Pinera officially confirms that the 33 miners trapped in the San Jose mine are alive and well in the refuge area.
  • Day 22

    Aug. 26 - Geotec works to ensure that the 5 1/2-inch 6C pilot hole is drilling to reach the underground workshop. After five days of constant drilling, the third attempt succeeds.
  • Day 32

    Sept. 5 - The Schramm T-130XD is brought in to drill Plan B using the 6C pilot hole. Reaming to 12 inches begins.
  • Day 35

    Sept. 8 - The T-130XD comes to a halt at 880 feet when the "nose" of the 12-inch hammer bit breaks. It's a major setback when the metal piece blocks the well. At this time, Layne drillers flown from Afghanistan and helpers flown from the U.S. arrive on location. The entire team is now complete and works to clear the hole.
  • Day 44

    Sept. 17 - Reaming the hole to 12 inches is completed at 2,040 feet, proving the theory of following the 5 1/2-inch hole to the mine workshop.
  • Day 45

    Sept. 18 - Reaming of the hole from 12 inches to 28 inches begins.
  • Day 66

    Oct. 9 - Cheers go up as the Plan B drill rig reaches its target - the mine workshop, allowing the rescue to begin.
  • Day 69

    Oct. 12 - Final preparations and test runs are carried out. Rescuers begin pulling miners to safety in the Phoenix capsule.

    Layne and Geotec receive official recognition from President Obama at the White House.
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Rescue 33

"Rescue 33" became the theme that guided our efforts. We recognize that the real heroes are the miners.

Geotec

Layne's Latin American affiliate, Geotec, brought essential experience and local expertise to the rescue operation.

Multidisciplinary

Contributing their skills to the multidisciplinary rescue team were (standing) James Stefanic, operations manager, Geotec; Jorge Herrera, helper, Layne; Mat Staffel, drill operator, Layne; Eugenio Eguiguren, executive vice president international, Geotec; (seated) Doug Reeves, helper, Layne, Pedro Buttazzoni, CEO, Geotec; Jeff Hart, driller, Layne; and Raul Lyon, executive vice president for Chile, Geotec.

Services Employed

  • 2.87 inch Accu-dril™ Directional Motor
  • Non-Magnetic Beryllium Copper Drill Rods
  • Reflex Magnetic Easy Shot Survey Tool
  • WinSer

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