The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

American Drillers Rescued Chilean Miners

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 21, 2010

American ingenuity played a huge role in the rescue of the 33 miners in Chile. While the whole world watched, the miners were pulled from the copper mine through a 28-inch hole drilled by two small U.S. companies.

The T-130 drill, developed by Schramm, Inc. of West Chester, Penn., was used create an opening through 2,200 feet of rock through which the miners could be pulled to the surface. It was delivered to the mine by GeoTech, an Atlanta-based company working in Chile, on a five-vehicle convoy as the miners' families waved flags. (The Wall Street Journal)

Schramm's CEO Ed Breiner called the drilling job "complex," but pledged, "I'm not going to relax until the job is done and the last guy is out." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The drill bit used to bore the hole was designed and produced by Center Rock, Inc., a Somerset, Penn., firm that prides itself in custom-making drill bits for specific projects. Its LP Drill is equipped with spinning hammers powered by compressed air. "These things operate like a jackhammer," Brandon Fisher, the company's founder and president, told reporters.

Center Rock also helped rescue coal miners from the Quecreek mine in southwestern Pennsylvania in 2002. "You're either a hero or zero at the end," Fisher said.

Sixty-nine days after the mine collapsed, both Breiner and Fisher became heroes when the Chilean miners climbed one by one into a rescue capsule only 21.5 inches in diameter and were hoisted to the surface. They were met by their families, Chile's political leaders, and tears of joy.

At Schramm's and Center Rock's headquarters, it was business-as-usual as employees went about their day-to-day tasks. "We're working," Breiner said. But he acknowledged, "It's good to see drilling looked at in a positive way."

H/T to Byron King at Outstanding Investments and!