Drillers reach miners after 33 days of drilling
Winning the three-way race to reach the 33 miners trapped in Chile since Aug. 5, drillers from Kansas-based Layne Christensen Co. broke through at 8 a.m. on Oct. 9.
“This success required the extra special knowledge and skills only our team could provide,” said Dave Singleton, water resource division president for Layne Christensen.
About two weeks after the collapse, Layne’s Latin American affiliate Geotec Boyles Bros. brought in a Schramm T130 tophead drill. Layne also sent in two drillers, Jeff Hart and Matt Staffel, who had been drilling water wells in Afghanistan to support U.S. troops stationed there. Assisting the drillers were two Spanish-speaking drilling helpers, Doug Reeves and Jorge Herrera, from Layne’s western region in the U.S.
Working as a team, Layne and Geotec drilled a 5-in. hole nearly 2,300 ft, and reamed it to 12 in. in diameter—large enough to accommodate the “Phoenix” rescue capsule.
It took the drillers 33 days to reach the 33 miners. “We cut more than two months from the original estimate,” said Singleton.
“It’s a first for our company to be involved in a rescue effort like this,” said President and CEO Andrew B. Schmitt. “It’s also noteworthy that we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary with our Latin American affiliates.” In 1995 Layne merged with Christensen Boyles Corp. and became the joint-venture partner with the Boytec group of companies in Latin America.