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CFE reports six months before bodies of miners can be recovered

Sabinas, Coahuila — After a recovery evaluation, CFE head Manuel Bartlett Díaz has reported at least six months will be needed to extract the bodies of the 10 dead miners.

In a press release, Bartlett Diaz, who heads the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), reported a work tour for the search and recovery of the El Pinabete miners that are presumed drowned since early August.

César Fuentes Estrada, CFE Corporate Director of Engineering and Projects of Infrastructure (DCIPI), explained that work that is already being carried out on site to comply with the instruction of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

In Sabinas, Coahuila, and after the tour, Bartlett Díaz and the National Civil Protection Coordinator (CNPC), Laura Velázquez Alzúa, met with the families of the 10 deceased miners to present the project to search for and recover the bodies.

Fuentes Estrada reported that based on geological and geotechnical studies, topographic survies and photogrammetry, measurement of water levels and technical sessions, they have decided to excavate an open pit.

He explained that they will excavating a surface in the mine 450 meters long, 320 meters wide and 60 meters deep to extract a volume of 5.6 million cubic meters of material.

The estimated work program will last 11 months and will be divided into 6 stages: 1) Previous activities, 2) Studies and project, 3) Excavation and treatments, 4) Filtration management (they will be controlled with concrete screens and pumping toward the Sabinas River, 5) Entry to galleries for search and recovery after the seventh month and 6) Closure and abandonment of the mine.

Previously, the CFE cleaned and delimited the area of the mine where the pit will be carried out, enabled the accesses, the supply of electrical energy and telecommunications for the camp where the electrical workers will remain during the recovery project.

To start the excavation, there will be bulldozers, excavators, articulated trucks, front loaders, drilling equipment and blasting equipment. Explosives will be used for the pit, without putting the personnel or the miners at risk, since it will only be done in delimited areas without affecting the galleries.

As part of the agreements, the general director of the CFE promised to set up a space so that the relatives of the miners, mostly their wives, have access to the mine and be on site during the recovery project.

The CFE says it will hire relatives of the miners for the work at the El Pinabete mine, as part of the support promised by the federal government.

Vicente Arévalo Mendoza, manager of Civil Engineering Studies of the CFE, explained that it is possible that coal seams will be extracted, which will be separated from the rubble to prevent fires. He clarified that the coal that is extracted as part of the recovery project will not be commercialized.

The head of the CFE and the National Civil Protection Coordinator explained to the media that the flooding was due to the leaks of the Sabinas River and the flooding of the adjoining mines Conchas Norte and Mina VI, which have already been closed.

The CFE engineers, who are already carrying out studies on the conditions of the mine, estimated that, “in six months, they would arrived at the galleries and would be in optimal condition to recover the bodies of the miners.”

The project contemplates extracting up to five million cubic meters of earth to be able to carry out the recoveries and to later fill and seal the mine after which a memorial will be erected. On September 4, three arrest warrants were issued in the deaths of the 10 miners.