Two mining workers are trapped in Mina Delia No. 2, one of the small silver/gold underground mines at the Cerro Bayo district, property of Mandalay Resources, located in southern Chile. The mine was flooded last Friday, June 9, after hard rains, and the miners are believed to be as far as 1,300 meters from the portal, if not deeper.

Local authorities are working with mining experts to see if the miners survived the catastrophe. Chilean Minister of Mining Aurora Williams traveled to the site on Tuesday.

According to Williams, the government has provided Mandalay with expert advising on water management, underground mining experts and drilling technical expertise to be provided by Sernageomin (the Chilean National Geology and Mining Service).

Besides the drilling works aimed to find the miners, some dewatering efforts are being conducted in shafts and headings inside the mine. Also, a 120-m height slope is being made to stop any water leaks from Laguna Verde, a lake located nearby.

Surface and underground operations at Cerro Bayo were suspended in a safe and orderly manner immediately after the incident occurred and only authorized personnel critical to the search efforts have been traveling to the site, according to Mandalay Resources. Search operations are proceeding around the clock with 100 to 120 people on day shift and 50 to 60 on night shift, the company said in a statement.

Search efforts are focused on drilling to intersect the deepest level of the mine, about 200 m below the surface, which is where the miners were working. Currently, two rigs are drilling with a third about to start. All surface and underground haul trucks on site along with several excavators and loaders are constructing a containment berm across a bay of Laguna Verde to isolate the incident zone from the larger lake and manage possible further water inflows.

“Our company is grateful to the community and our employees, the Chilean government, SERNAGEOMIN, all emergency responders, military, police and local government, as well as other mining companies, for the outpouring of support and generous offers of help to us in this emergency,” said Dr. Mark Sander, president and CEO of Mandalay. “Mandalay is doing everything possible to locate Jorge Sanchez and Enrique Ojeda, who were working in the flooded section of the Delia NW mine. The presence of water and disturbed material makes this effort extremely complicated. We will continue to deploy our own resources as well as the resources coming from suppliers, contractors, other mining companies, and government, while taking extraordinary care to proceed safely during these unprecedented efforts.”