Thirty-three miners have been trapped 2,000 feet below Chile's desert surface for more than two months, and the effort to bore through the volcanic rock at the San Jose mine has been more than challenging for the various crews attempting to reach the workers. As a drill recently entered the chamber where the miners are trapped, Arvada's Jeff Hart was at the controls.
"This is the most important thing I have done in my work life and probably the most important thing I will ever do," Hart tells The Denver Post in a phone interview. That work left the miners and their families above ground celebrating, some with tears of joy and relief. Champagne flowed, too, Hart says, adding, "Let the world know that Denver rocks, and we came down here and kicked butt."
Hart's crew boasts three other Colorado drillers: Matt Staffel, Doug Reeves, and Jorge Herrera. Although they've been able to break through to the chamber in which the miners are trapped, there's more labor ahead for the four Coloradans, including getting the miners out. Crews may expand the hole with explosives and then bring the miners to the surface.
Colorado coal mining sits at a crossroads.
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