It was early August when Andrew Schmitt got the call from his company’s partners in Chile requesting help in a mission the likes of which he’d never seen in all his years in the drilling business.

Partners of Mission Woods-based Layne Christensen Co., of which Schmitt is CEO, had been helping search for miners who were trapped underground when a mine collapsed on Aug. 5. But they were about to get much more involved.

Upon finding 33 miners alive, the Chilean government had publicly announced a so-called Plan A that could have the miners out by around the end of the year. But discussions with Layne’s partner — Latin American affiliate Geotec Boyles Bros. — had led to the formulation of a Plan B using a different type of drill, and those partners were calling Schmitt to seek additional help.
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By: Parabellum
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@ 2010-10-13 06:34:30
MISSION WOODS, Kan., Oct. 10, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "Plan B" worked. Winning the three-way race to reach the 33 miners trapped in Chile since Aug. 5, drillers from Kansas City-based Layne Christensen Co. broke through at 8 a.m. Saturday.

"This success required the extra special knowledge and skills only our team could provide," said Dave Singleton, water resource division president for Layne Christensen.

About two weeks after the collapse, Layne's Latin American affiliate Geotec Boyles Bros. brought in a Schramm T130 tophead drill. Layne also sent in two drillers, Jeff Hart and Matt Staffel, who had been drilling water wells in Afghanistan to support U.S. troops stationed there. Assisting the drillers were two Spanish-speaking drilling helpers, Doug Reeves and Jorge Herrera, from Layne's western region in the U.S.

Working as a team, Layne and Geotec drilled a 5-inch hole nearly 2,300 feet, reamed it to 12 inches and finally to 26 inches in diameter. large enough to accommodate the "Phoenix" rescue capsule. A cheer went up as families and rescue workers joined in a celebration when the drill broke through. "I'm on top of the world," Hart told a TV reporter.