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Chilean copper miners in the news

August 23, 2010

Since I was just writing about the Chilean history of copper mining, thought I’d link to this pretty incredible AP story about 33 Chilean copper miners trapped more than 2,220 feet beneath the surface in Chile’s San Jose gold and copper mine since a tunnel collapse on August 5. Rescuers are estimating it could take four months to drill a rescue tunnel big enough to extract the miners, who will have food and supplies, including communications equipment, lowered to them in the meantime. The capsules containing the supplies take an hour to descend to the men through a 6-inch bore hole that reached the miners yesterday. Also being lowered are questionnaires to help mental health experts on the surface determine how to help the miners maintain their sanity during what’s got to be a grueling four months ahead.

“We need to urgently establish what psychological situation they are in. They need to understand what we know up here at the surface, that it will take many weeks for them to reach the light,” Health Minister Jaime Manalich explained.

Chile is the world’s top copper producer. The San Jose mine owner, Compania Minera San Esteban Primera — no relation to the former Anaconda Mining Company — has reported accidents causing 16 mining fatalities in recent years, according to The New York Times.

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