Shannon expertise helps save Chilean miners

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A SHANNON based company that has played a pivotal role in the survival of 33 Chilean miners, is one of just three in the world that manufacture the hammer drills needed.

Mincon, based in the Smithstown Industrial Estate, manufactures reverse circulation drills, one of which was used to drill a hole allowing food, water and medication to be passed down to the miners who remain trapped 700 metres below ground in the San Jose Mine.

Their input to the rescue of the Chilean miners was revealed in last week’s Limerick Post.

Paddy Purcell is director and founder of Mincon, established in Shannon in 1977 and employs 50.

He said it was a rewarding experience to play a part in the survival of the miners.

“There are only three companies that have the level of expertise to produce the hammer drills used in this operation, which allowed a hole to be created to pass food and water to the miners.

“We have taken out patents on these drills and drill bits.

“It feels very satisfying to know that we played a part in keeping these men alive”.

Mr. Purcell explained that his son Joe, who lives in Ennis, designed the drill, which bore the five inch wide hole, hammering the rock 2,000 times a minute over a five day period.

“Various members of the Shannon team have been to the site in Chile, including myself”, added Paddy, who lives in Shannon but is originally from Tipperary.

He revealed the manager of the Vancouver branch is on site.

It may be Christmas before a rescue shaft of sufficient size is created to allow the miners to escape their confines, and the drilled hole will continue its purpose until this time.

The Chilean Government are expected to keep the Shannon made drill for display at La Moneda, the President’s residence in the city of Santiago.