Chile: Heavy snowfall hampers rescue of workers trapped at Patagonia mine

Rescue work underway at the Delia Mine in Chile's southern Aysen region.

SANTIAGO – Heavy snowfall in Chile’s southern region of Aysén has complicated efforts to rescue two miners who have been trapped for a week at Mandalay Resources’ (TSX:MND) mine, after the section in which they were working was flooded.

The Canadian company said a landslide on June 9 at a section of the Delia mine, part of its Cerro Bayo gold and silver complex, sparked the flooding from a nearby lake, leaving two workers trapped underground.

Enrique Ojeda, 34, and Jorge Sánchez, 26, were last seen operating scoop and dump trucks in Section 2 of the Delia mine – beneath a lagoon – when the area became “completely inundated with water”.

Two workers missing following Patagonia mine flood

It’s unknown whether the missing miners, are still alive as authorities have been unable to make contact with them.

Support from President Bachelet

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet sent on Friday a new message of support for the two miners who have been trapped underground for eight days, ever since the flooding of the gold mine in southern Chile where they were working.

“All united, we Chileans will continue working without rest to find our miners in Chile Chico. They are not alone,” the president posted on her Twitter account.

At a public event several days ago, Bachelet first expressed her solidarity with the family and friends of the workers, while promising that her government would make every possible effort to help rescue them.

Mandalay’s mining operations

Mandalay Resources Company, which is based in Toronto and traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MND), owns the gold and silver mine as part of its Cerro Bayo complex near Chile Chico, a small town 1,800 kilometers south of Santiago.

Mining operations have been suspended since June 9. Rescue efforts are focused on diverting the water and trying to make contact with the shelter.

Rescuers believe they might have reached an emergency shelter, which is located some 200 metres underground and about 50 metres from the site of the landslide.

They added efforts continue to be focused on diverting the water and trying to make contact with the shelter, as the miners have less than two days left of air.

Mandalay’s stock has dropped almost 20% percent since the accident and was changing hands Friday in Toronto almost 7% lower than Thursday closing price, at 42.5 Canadian cents at 1:00PM.

The unfolding event recalls the 2010 mining accident in northern Chile, when 33 miners made world headlines after they survived in an emergency shelter for more than three months before being rescued.

Mandalay said it was “doing everything possible” to locate the two miners, noting that the presence of water and disturbed material has made the task “extremely complicated.”