Accident at the San José mine in 2010


August 12, 2022

The San José mine accident in 2010 refers to an accident with 33 workers buried in a mine at a depth of 688 meters that occurred in Chile on August 5, 2010.

The Location

The San José mine is a copper and gold exploration site, owned by Empresa Minera San Esteban, and is located 33 kilometers northwest of Copiapó, in the northern region of the country. It is a small mine, smaller than most mines in the region, which are operated by large companies such as the state-owned company Codelco and foreign multinationals. Smaller mines also have a higher accident history. To compensate for the risks and the bad reputation of the San José mine, the employees received higher salaries than the average of their colleagues. in this type of work.


The rescue work began the next day, having been carried out by a group that created a ventilation duct. A new collapse occurred two days later, on August 7, requiring heavy machinery to complete the rescue. On Sunday, August 22, the miners were found alive, favoring a more motivating rescue, where it was estimated that they could only leave at the end of 2010, as they would have to cross a large rock. The workers stayed 17 days without contact with the rescue personnel, there were several perforations, until the return of one of the guides with the following message: For the rescue, a project was developed to drill a well, which reached the lobby where the workers are housed, with an estimated period of 70 days after the start of operations. At first, a well of a few centimeters in diameter was drilled, for the passage of water and food, which was later enlarged to house the Fenix ​​II capsule with about 5 meters high and 60 centimeters in diameter. only one worker with safety, it also has emergency equipment such as ropes, hooks, flashlights, radios and other equipment for eventual accidents, and in case it gets stuck in the tunnel, there are lower exits (if it is closer to the accommodation) and upper exits ( in case it is closer to the surface). The work was done by taking out the workers one by one. The group received extra training for this type of situation. On October 12 at 23:55 local time (02:55 UTC), the process of removing workers through the Fenix ​​II capsule began. The rescue of the first, Florencio Ávalos, reached the surface 16 minutes later, that is, 13 October at 00:11 local time (03:11 UTC). And at 00:33 on October 14, Patricio Sepúlveda, the last rescuer returned to the surface, thus ending the largest rescue in this type of rescue in the world. According to historian Franck Gaudichaud, the drama was used by the Chilean media for political propaganda purposes: "everything was done to transform the wave of solidarity into a political consensus: 'all united' behind President Piñera. in 10 points during these events.The Chilean Mines Confederation recalled that Chile is not a signatory to Convention 176 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on safety and health in mines. , restricting, for example, the right to strike. The mine is owned by the mining company San Estaban, which is owned by Alejandro Bohn (60% of the capital) and Marcelo Kemeny (40%). constantly trying to increase the productivity of its employees, namely through the almost systematic use of overtime (up to twelve hours a day) , and showed little