The search for two men buried in a Patagonian gold mine may not be attracting the kind of global attention as the miraculous rescue of 33 miners in Chile seven years ago, but it’s no less dramatic. To begin with, time is running out.
Enrique Ojeda and Jorge Sanchez, trapped in the Mandalay Resources Corp.-owned mine since June 9, have an estimated three days of air left. And while the depths are less than the San Jose mine, technically the rescue is more difficult, said Felipe Matthews, a geologist who advised the Chilean Mining Ministry in 2010 and is also working on this search.
The hope is that the two found their way into a refuge after a section of the mine collapsed and tunnels flooded with water from a nearby lagoon. “If I’m here it’s because I have faith that we can achieve a similar miracle than the one we had in San Jose,” Matthews said Thursday in a telephone interview.
In 2010, the world’s attention turned to northern Chile’s Atacama desert where a small copper mine collapsed and 33 workers were trapped at a depth of 720 meters (2,360 feet) for 69 days. In Chile, the largest copper exporter, mining accidents aren’t rare, although they have been declining over the last few years. In 2016, 18 people died and 17 were injured in mining-related accidents, according to the Mining Ministry.
To rescue the two miners in Mandalay’s Mina Delia 2, drillers need to go through 40 meters of unstable mud and sediment to reach the refuge, at a depth of about 200 meters. In a first try, the drill deviated from its course. A second drill is expected to reach the area in the next few hours.
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