Chilean Miners

How SPT North Seeking Gyro Helped Locate Surviving Trapped Miners in Chile

The Problem

August 22, 2010 was a milestone day for Stockholm Precision Tools, when we were able to contribute to the rescue operation for 33 Chilean miners trapped in a mine in Copiapó, in the north of the country. After 17 days, SPT North Seeking GyroTracer Directional™ survey technology was successfully used to locate the miners.

On August 5, 2010, an exit route from the San José gold and copper mine collapsed and 33 miners were trapped almost 700 meters (m) underground. Under these extreme circumstances, being able to obtain the real azimuth (borehole direction) was of the uttermost importance for the rescue mission. The level of accuracy provided by the SPT North-Seeking GyroTracer was the main reason it was deployed as part of the survey operations, which successfully helped the mine and rescue team to quickly and effectively locate the surviving miners.

The Solution

Technically, a gyroscope is a device that can measure angular velocity

Felipe Matthews Rojas, manager of our customer company Geoatacama Consultores Ltda, involved in the survey operations in Chile, remarked: “Had it not been for the exceptional precision of SPT equipment, it would have been impossible to find the 33 trapped miners”. The fact that SPT equipment delivers timely and precise downhole survey data under the most adverse circumstances is the main reason why many mines around the world trust Stockholm Precision Tools North Seeking Gyros.

Geoatacama Consultores Ltda. accomplished the following milestones, thanks to the use of SPT North-Seeking gyroscope survey tool in August, 2010 at San José mine, in Chile:

Thursday, 12th: Geoatacama is contacted by Chile’s Ministry of Mining, and is granted the permission to perform the borehole orientation surveying operations at San José mine, seven days after the collapse of the mine, which trapped 33 miners underground.

Friday, 13th: At 8:00 a.m., Geoatacama begins to collect borehole orientation survey data, together with some other companies.

Saturday, 14th: Chilean Rescue Team establishes Geoatacama as the official company to lead the borehole orientation survey operations, due to the proven precision and accuracy of SPT equipment.

Sunday, 15th: After a quality control check of GyroTracer™ performed on site, a rescue team surveyor verified the correct functioning of the instrument, which showed a 353.3044 degrees azimuth and inclination of 33.7097degrees.

Sunday, 22nd: At 6:00 a.m. the targeted tunnel where the miners were expected to be held up was successfully intersected by a probe, based on borehole 10 B orientation survey data at a measurement depth of 688 m, collected by Geoatacama with GyroTracer™.

Monday, 23nd: At 18:30 p.m. the tunnel was finally drilled at a depth of 675 m, based on borehole 16 orientation survey data, previously collected at 14:00 p.m. at a measurement depth of 660 m. According to Geoatacama, the intensive use of SPT equipment and quality control checks performed daily after measurements of up to 11.000 m proved that GyroTracer™ delivers durability in extreme conditions and precise repeatable accuracy in deep and highly deviated holes, saving precious time in cases such as rescue operations, which makes it the most reliable downhole survey instrument in the market.

The Result

A great message:

“We are well in the shelter, all 33 of us”, was the message, written in red letters, that came from the depths of the earth confirming that the miners were still alive. The survivors also managed to hit a metal bar as a sign for the rescuers.

The oldest miner, Mario Gomez, aged 65, sent a letter to his wife explaining how they felt when the sounding lines were close to locating them. He also explained in the letter that they had water coming down from a gutter through the roof of the shelter.

Orlando Ramirez, SPT´s CEO & Founder, said: “It was a pleasure for us to help them in this operation and to see that thanks to the precision and technology of our GyroTracer™, we were able to expose that written message that gave relief and hope to many families, and also to everyone that was waiting anxiously next to their televisions for any possible news.

That moment was poignant for us. We have never felt so satisfied and proud of our work. It was comforting.”

In response, an immense sense of relief and happiness surrounded the region of Atacama and filled the streets of Santiago, the capital. This was expressed by cars honking their horns on the roads and having flags of Chile hanging out of house and office windows, while the national hymn was sung by adults and children.

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