Were the Chilean Miners To Be Forgotten? San Jose Goes Broke
For at least part of the 17 days 33 Chilean miners were trapped by an August, 05, 2010 cave-in, some of the miners must have wondered if they would be forgotten by a company on the verge of bankruptcy and entombed in a defective mine forever.
(Photo: Kemeny and Bohn during a Chilean Investigative Panel AFI photo)
“Don’t leave us alone” Luis Urzua implored to the Chilean President Sebastian Pinera when contact was made by phone after 17 days of wondering if and when rescue was going to occur.
Who would not ask at what point would the mine ownership elect to cease rescue efforts and leave the miners trapped below on theory there could be no survivors? That is what happened in Pasta de Conchos coal mine in northern Mexico in 2006 after a methane explosion trapped 65 souls beneath the ground. Efforts were halted only five days after the collapse. The bodies have never been recovered.
Little did Urzua know when he spoke to the Chilean president, Marcelo Kemeny and Alejandro Bohn, owners of the San Esteban Primera Company which operates the San Jose Mine in Northern Chile, had already thrown their hands up in the air and turned the rescue effort over to the government.
Bohn spoke to a Chilean investigative council convened to ask why the mine had been reopened after being closed for safety violations in 2007.
“Sernageomin (Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería which means National Geologic and Mineral Service) went through the mine from top to bottom and bottom to top” (before allowing the mine to re-open), Bohn stated. Sernageomin is the Chilean government agency responsible for mine safety.
According to Bohn, Sernageomin required the mine to present geo-mechanical studies showing adequate security measures were in place. An emphasis was placed on roadway supports. After representatives of San Esteben Primera had complied with these requirements, the company held meetings with the
“regional and national directors of Sernageomin” to explain the plan of action.
Denver Post, Relatives of Trapped Miners WaitContinued on the next page