Drilling products manufactured by two Pennsylvania companies, Center Rock Inc. of Berlin in southwestern Pennsylvania and Schramm Inc. of West Chester, near Philadelphia, were instrumental in the rescue Wednesday of 33 Chilean miners trapped for more two months in an underground mine.
Center Rock provided the drillbits for the marathon effort, which has hailed around the world, while rigs manufactured by Schramm were used to cut both the small five-inch hole that located the miners 17 days after they were feared dead in a cave-in, and the 28-inch wide, 2,050 foot deep hole through which they were brought to the surface. Both companies make drilling products used by the oil and gas industry, along with the mining, water well and foundation industries.
"Actually, the bits were the type used on supports for bridges and skyscrapers," said Dan Stoner, Center Rock's sales manager for oil and gas. Center Rock's president and several other employees have spent the last five weeks at the Chilean mine site, advising on the drilling procedures. "They just came back Tuesday, after the hole was completed."
Stoner said Center Rock got involved when they first heard the president of Chile say on television that it would take until Christmas to get the miners out. "We contacted them and let them know we had tools that would do it in half the time." Center Rock manufactured the required bits, which were delivered to the mine site by Center Rock President Brandon Fisher.
Four rigs manufactured by Schramm and owned by Chilean exploration drilling companies were among the nine rigs employed in early August to try to locate the miners after the Aug. 5 collapse. A Schramm rig was the one that found them on Aug. 22.
Another, the Schramm T130XD self-propelled mobile drilling rig, capable of being transported on most highways and which now has been nicknamed "The Miracle," was the one used to enlarge the five and a half inch hole to 28 inches in diameter to accommodate a rescue capsule that brought the miners to the surface. The rig was operated by Geotec Boyles Bros. S.A.with a Schramm field service engineer and a large quantity of spare parts on site.
Schramm, which was founded in 1900, built the first mobile drilling rigs in the early 1950s and now builds approximately 100 rigs a year, which are in operation in over 80 countries.
Center Rock, which started operations in 1998, manufactures and distributes a complete line of air drilling tools and products that are used by leading drilling, oil and gas, foundation and construction, roadway, and mining contractors across North America, Europe, Asia, Russia, and Australia.