Center Rock Drill Breaks Through to Trapped Chilean Miners

Drilling operations at the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile, have broken through to the miners trapped 2,070 feet underground.

October 9 (The San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile) -- The Center Rock drill being used to reach trapped miners more than 2,000 feet underground -- often referred to as "Plan B" by the media -- has broken through to the miners, far ahead of the earlier projections that drilling might take until Christmas.

Center Rock's drilling expertise was called upon by industry experts and Chile to drill this rescue bore hole for the 33 miners who were trapped during a cave-in on August 5th. The first small bore hole that reached the miners 17 days after the mine collapse brought news to the world they were alive 2,070 feet below the surface. Rescuers have been sending food, medicine and letters through a small pipe to the miners, as well as video cameras so the miners can communicate with their families.

Brandon Fisher, CEO of Center Rock, Inc. has been on-site assisting in the drilling of a rescue shaft to rescue the 33 trapped Chilean gold and copper miners. The planned rescue itself will be conducted using a steel capsule, the "Phoenix", designed by the Chilean navy, which will be lowered into the hole to bring the miners to the surface one-by-one.

Pneumatics to the rescue

Fisher, whose American company built the drills, said that the pneumatic-based drilling system that bored the rescue shaft hole used four hammers instead of just one -- similar to the drill that Center Rock used to initially reach the miners with a 12" pilot hole.

The drilling employed a T-130 rig standing 45 meters tall with a Center Rock percussion-technology drill that can bore through as much as 40 meters of rock per day, depending on conditions. Center Rock has drilled holes as wide as 10 feet in diameter; this drill was used to carve a shaft 28" in diameter -- wide enough to lift a man through using the capsule.

Center Rock's pneumatic-driven air compression drills chips away at rock like a jackhammer. While Center Rock is often called upon for complex drilling projects with the creation of custom drill bits, this is no easy drilling project. According to Mr. Fisher, "There was no way for us to know how long this would take, but progress has been excellent, months ahead of the original projections to reach the trapped miners. We were drilling in extremely hard rock; the breakthrough today is a major milestone in bringing the miners to the surface."

Cutting large diameter holes in rock can be a challenge - the low profile (L.P.) drill series from Center Rock is currently used by some of the nation's largest building, roadway, and mining contractors to quickly drill holes to the exact size required by their specifications. The advanced engineering of the drills provides a cost-effective solution for drilling and excavation requirements up to 120" in diameter.

About Brandon W. Fisher:

Brandon Fisher founded Center Rock, Inc. in 1998 as a small drilling company that has grown to become a leading manufacturer, supplier and service provider of drilling products that now employs approximately 70 people and continues to expand. Fisher's innovative and adaptive leadership coupled with Center Rock's quick responsiveness, unique products and 24-hour customer service are the hallmark of Fisher's entrepreneurial commitment and a key ingredient to his company's ability to compete in the drilling market, world-wide.

About Center Rock, Inc.:

Headquartered in Berlin, PA (with a Construction Product Sales office in Germantown, WI, and an engineering team in Roanoke, VA), Center Rock, Inc. manufactures and distributes a complete line of air drilling tools and products, including L.P. Drills and Hole Openers, that together meet drilling needs ranging from 5" to 120". The company's staff provides more than 75 years of combined oil field and construction site experience, excelling in hard-rock / unconventional environments.

Center Rock drills are frequently used to cut foundation holes for highway overpasses, bridge supports, building foundations and large utility poles among many other infrastructure projects as well as for mining, oil and gas and geothermal drilling.