Australia Mine Rescue: 'We Are Going as Fast as We Can'

May 3, 2006
Drilling was expected to begin today as part of an effort to rescue miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb, who have been trapped underground in a northern Tasmania gold mine for more than a week.

Beaconsfield Gold Mine Manager Matthew Gill said a machine known as a raise borer will be used to grind away the rock to create a 1-meter-wide tunnel for the two miners to get through.

Gill said that the miners continue to be in "reasonable health and good spirits under these very trying circumstances." Rescuers have been supplying Russell and Webb with food, beverages, dry clothes, reading material, torches and spare batteries through a 90 mm pipe near the cage in which they have been awaiting rescue.

As for the push to drill a tunnel that will reach the two miners, Gill said that "[w]e are going as fast as we can" but cautioned that "safety is paramount."

"We will not rush to jeopardize this," Gill said. "Our first strategy is to drill through the new tunnel, which has about 12 meters to go. At the same time, we are working on other possible strategies."

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