An Irish drill has been used to bore a 1.9-inch hole into the rock allowing access to the 33 trapped Chilean miners near the northern Chilean city of Copiapo.
The drill, built by Minchem, an Irish-owner company in Shannon, County Clare, penetrated 2296.56-feet to rock to gain access to the trapped miners.
Paddy Purcell, the managing director of operations, explained that the hole was drilled using a hardened steel and tungsten carbide. The hole took five days to drill using compressed air and special equipment which increases air pressure deep beneath the earth's surface.
Yesterday, Purcell told the Irish Times, that his staff in Shannon were "chuffed" (very pleased) when it was confirmed that they had gained access to the cave where the 33 miners are taking refuge.
There were eight rigs used in attempting to make contact with the miners. However, the Irish drill was the only one which could pinpoint their location.
Purcell said "We were faster in getting down and suffered less hole deviation." He said that this good news story will be a big boost for traditional manufacturing in Ireland. “This sector has been totally destroyed in recent years in the rush to the smart economy, but smart countries like Germany know that manufacturing is what it’s all about.”
The 33 Chilean miners managed to attach a message to the nose of the drill. It read "The 33 of us in the shelter are well." Although the rescuers are confident that they can reach the men using a larger drill they also believe that the operation could take up to four months.
The miners have now been underground for 20 days. Authorities from NASA are being employed to help the men maintain their mental and physical health while living in the cramped and dark conditions. They are trapped in a 600-square-foot shelter a half a mile below ground. Now because of the Irish drill they will be able to send and receive messages, and more importantly food and water.