Press Releases

Murray & Roberts participates in rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile

24 August 2010

Murray & Roberts has been selected to participate in the rescue operation of the 33 miners who have been trapped underground, 688 metres below surface, in the San Jose Mine near the town Copiapo in the north of Chile. The miners have been trapped since 05 August 2010, after the main access tunnel to the mine collapsed.

Murray & Roberts has a controlling shareholding in two mining contracting companies in Chile;  Terracem, which is a specialist raise drilling company, and the recently established Cementation Sudamerica, which is focused on major vertical shaft and underground mine infrastructure work.  Its partner in Chile is a local company, Terraservice.

On Sunday, 22 August 2010, communication was established with the miners when a Terraservice drill reached their underground refuge chamber.  The miners attached a written message to the drill pipe confirming that they were all alive and well.

Murray & Roberts Cementation, managing director, Henry Laas stated, "Rescuing the miners will be a challenging process.  The mine is old and there is concern of further collapses.  The rescue methodology therefore has to be carefully designed and implemented."

One of Murray & Roberts' large diameter raise drilling machines, the Strata 950, will be used by Terracem in the rescue operation.  Rotary Vertical Drilling System (RVDS) technology, co-developed by Murray & Roberts, will be applied to accurately drill a pilot hole to reach the trapped miners, where after the hole will be opened up to 660mm or 700mm to rescue the miners.   The Strata 950 has just completed a shaft for Codelco's Andina Mine and has already been transferred to the San Jose Mine where drilling will commence in the next few days.

"The miners are being cared for by a group of medical specialists and are receiving water, food and medicine through the communications drill hole.  Murray & Roberts' Terracem company will be working for a period of three months to create the access hole for rescue purposes and optimistic that the rescue operation will be completed safely in the next 120 days," Laas concluded.

More information can be found at the following websites:

For further information contact:

Mr Ed Jardim
Group Communications Manager

Murray & Roberts Client Service
Tel:      +27 (0) 11 456 1144
Fax:     +27 (0) 86 637 0113

Back to News