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Wednesday 2 September 2015

Chile miners rescue: What next for 'Los 33'?

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By Guy Adams

Published 14/10/2010

Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Miner Mario Gomez gestures after exiting the capsule that brought him to the surface during his rescue from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he had been trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile
Alfonso Avalos, father of trapped miner Florencio Avalos, reacts while watching on a TV screen the rescue operation of his son, the first of 33 miners to be lifted to the surface
Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Chile mine rescue. October 2010
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, the oldest rescued miner Claudio Mario Gomez, 59, kneels as he becomes the ninth to exit the rescue capsule, on October 13, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5, 2010 collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Scenes from the Chile mine rescue. October 2010
Osman Araya, 29,is hugged by a relative as he becomes the sixth miner to exit the rescue capsule, on October 13, 2010 at the San Jose mine
Carlos Mamani, 23, is stretchered off as he becomes the fourth miner to exit the rescue capsule, on October 13, 2010 at the San Jose mine
Jimmy Sanchez, the fifth miner to be rescued, celebrates after his rescue Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at San Jose Mine
Florencio Avalos, 31, becomes the first miner to exit the rescue capsule at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Carlos Mamani, 23, becomes the fourth miner to exit the rescue capsule, on October 13, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5, 2010 collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
Marcelo Vilquinina, nephew of trapped miner Carlos Mamani Solis, yawns as he watches rescue operations on TV from the camp outside the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. Thirty-three miners became trapped when the gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5. Mamani was the fourth miner to be rescued. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
A boy gestures as he watches on TV the rescue operations at the San Jose mine to free 33 trapped miners in Copiapo, Chile, late Tuesday Oct. 12, 2010. Thirty-three miners became trapped when the gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
In this screen grab taken from video, Carlos Mamani, the fourth miner to be rescued, celebrates after his rescue Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. Mamani had just started working as a heavy-equipment operator at the mine when it it collapsed. (AP Photo)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
In this screen grab taken from video, rescuer Manuel Gonzalez Pavez, second left, speaks to the 33 trapped miners after being lowered into the mine near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo)
In this photo released by the Chilean government, Bolivian miner Juan Illanes is carried away on a stretcher after being rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Hugo Infante, Chilean government)
Rescued miner Juan Andres Illanes Palma, center, third miner to be rescued, salutes at his arrival to the surface from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010.at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. Center right is Chile's President Sebastian Pinera.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, center, first lady Cecilia Morel, left, and Mining Minister Laurence Goldburn, right, talk to the press after the rescue of the first of 33 trapped miners at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010.(AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
Rescued miner Juan Andres Illanes Palma, third miner to be rescued, salutes at his arrival to the surface from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010.at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
A person holds a sign that reads in Spanish "Strength miners, Chile is with you" with a group of people watching on rescue operations on TV taking place at the San Jose mine to free 33 trapped miners, in Copiapo, Chile, late Tuesday Oct. 12, 2010. Thirty-three miners became trapped when the gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
In this screen grab taken from video, Juan Andres Illanes, the third miner to be rescued, celebrates after his rescue Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this photo released by the Chilean government, Bolivian miner Juan Illanes is carried away on a stretcher after being rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Hugo Infante, Chilean government)
In this photo released by the Chilean presidential press office, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, center right, greets the second rescued miner Mario Sepulveda after he was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Manuel de la Maza, Chilean presidential press office)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this photo released by the Chilean presidential press office, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, right, hugs rescued miner Mario Sepulveda after Sepulveda was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Manuel de la Maza, Chilean presidential press office)
In this photo released by the Chilean presidential press office, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, fourth right, applauds while the capsule with the first rescued miner Florencio Avalos comes out from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Manuel de la Maza, Chilean presidential press office)
This undated photo released by Diario Atacama, shows miner Florencio Antonio Avalos Silva. According to Maria Silva, Avalos' mother, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera told her that her son will be the first miner to be pulled out of the mine. (AP Photo/Diario Atacama)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda (back to camera), 39, the second miner to exit the rescue capsule, is greeted October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, the second miner to exit the rescue capsule, receives a hug October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout provided by the Chilean government October 13, 2010, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, stands in the rescue capsule at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. Gonzalez was the first rescue worker to be lowered into the mine. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout provided by the Chilean government October 13, 2010, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, stands in the rescue capsule at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. Gonzalez was the first rescue worker to be lowered into the mine. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, the second miner to exit the rescue capsule, shakes hands with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (R) October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, left, is embraced by Chilean President Sebastian Pinera after his rescue at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera embraces miner Florencio Avalos after he was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
Mining Minister Laurence Golborne and rescue chief Andre Sougarrete, right, hold hands as rescue worker Manuel Gonzalez Paves is lowered in the capsule into the mine where miners are trapped to begin the rescue at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
In this screen grab taken from video, rescuer Manuel Gonzalez Pavez, second left, is greeted by the trapped miners at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo)
Relatives and friends of trapped miners celebrate while watching on a TV screen the rescue operation of Florencio Avalos at the camp outside the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile.
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Mining Minister Laurence Golborne stand with the family of Florencio Avalos while waiting for the trapped miner to exit the mine in the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (L) and Mining Minister Laurence Golborne shake hands after Roberto Rios, a technical expert arrived at the bottom of the rescue hole October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
Patricio Sepulveda, a corporal of the police special operations unit, smiles after arriving at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile
In this screen grab taken from video, Mario Sepulveda Espina, the second miner to be rescued, celebrates at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILI - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera watches the first dry run of the descent of the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
This undated photo released as a courtesy by Diario Atacama, shows miner Mario Sepulveda Espina. According to rescuers Sepulveda will be the second miner to be pulled out of the mine late Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Diario Atacama)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, prepares to be the first rescuer lowered into the mine in the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, prepares to be the first rescuer lowered into the mine in the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILI - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera watches the first dry run of the descent of the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILI - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera watches the first dry run of the descent of the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
Jaime Manalich, Chile's health minister, has been closely monitoring the miners' mental and physical health (AP)
Chile's mining minister Laurence Golborne stands inside a capsule that will be used to rescue trapped miners (AP)
Drill operator Jeff Hart embraces Elizabeth Segovia, sister of trapped miner Dario Segovia Rojo, at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile (AP)
Chile's mining minister has said 33 men trapped for more than two months will probably start to be pulled out on Wednesday (AP)
Chile's First Lady Cecilia Morel, right, embraces a relative of a trapped miner outside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
Relatives of the trapped miners await further news of their rescue in Chile (AP)
The Plan B drill, one of three drills working in the rescue operation of 33 trapped miner in Chile (AP)
A relative shows on his mobile phone new images of the trapped miners in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
A man carries a Chilean flag during a small ceremony marking 60 days since 33 miners became trapped in Chile (AP)
Workers move a capsule that will be used to rescue trapped miners from the collapsed San Jose mine in Chile (AP)
Trapped miners inside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
Trapped miners celebrate Chile's independence bicentennial inside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
The camp where the relatives of 33 trapped miners are waiting in Copiapo, Chile
Some of the 33 trapped miners inside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)

When the euphoria subsides, one pressing issue will remain: on paper, at least, "Los 33" are out of a job.

Before the disaster that entombed them for almost 70 days, the men were earning roughly 320,000 pesos (£1,000) a month. That salary was between 30 and 40 per cent higher than standard in Chile's privately owned mines, since the extreme age and depth of this particular mine was thought (accurately, as it happened) to make it dangerous.



Although their employer, the San Esteban mining company, has both filed for bankruptcy protection and had its licence to operate withdrawn, the families of the miners continued to receive salaries during their time underground.



The men's release puts them back on the job market, however. At first, that shouldn't prove too much of a problem: they should on paper be due a huge financial windfall. They have talked of establishing a foundation to manage their income from media deals, ensuring proceeds are shared out equally.



But with Copiapo now filled with hundreds of journalists, many of them waving chequebooks, it is anyone's guess as to whether their unity will survive.



If they want to resume work in the mining industry, the men certainly aren't short of options. A Chilean government website set up to help all 300 employees of San Esteban has already generated more than 1,000 job offers, from bulldozer driver to mechanic to risk reduction specialist.

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Then there are the courts. The families of 27 of the men have launched a joint negligence suit against the owners of the San Jose mine and government regulators. That could be bad news for employees of Chile's privately run mining firms. Juan Eduardo Herrera, a senior employee of Codelco, the state-owned mining firm, told The Independent that even when they cut corners with safety procedures, these firms operate small mines that are only marginally profitable.



"What happened here was a regulatory lapse," he said. "The mine owners were dragging their feet. Regulators should have closed the mine. But miners and their families often push inspectors to let them carry on working in a dangerous mine, because if a mine shuts down, they are out of a job."



Chile's government was responsible for the regulatory lapse that led to the initial San Jose mine disaster, so is tightening up oversight of the entire industry. But that, says Mr Herrera, could see thousands of men who work at the dirty end of the copper industry facing redundancy. "Now the authorities will become stricter, so some of Chile's smaller mines will have to close," he said.

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