San Jose mine rescue in Chile – miner safety is not an option

The jubilation following yesterday’s extraction of the last of the 33 miners turned off the light on the rescuers, particularly those left in the hole. They and the rest of their team deserve due recognition. But now the harder questions:

  • why was the mine operating with only one extrance/exit?
  • where were the government regulators?
  • have the citizens of Chile been inadvertedly profiting from their government’s under-funding of mining inspectors?

The lives of the trapped miners and their rescuers were placed in mortal peril, first and foremost by owners and managers who decided against one of underground mining engineering’s cardinal rules: always have an alternate escape route. These profligate and cold-hearted individuals have been getting away with a dangerous practice for years, displaying a brazen disregard for so many human lives and all for the sake of the “bottom line”. How are they to be made to atone for the massive angst and trauma that they’ve caused their victims? Those 33 men, who were locked away for what must have seemed an eternity, as well as their families and loved ones.

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