Best Mining Story: A rescue in Chile

“The most important thing to us was their safety and that they could stay at our facilities until their car was fixed and the weather improved,” said Cristian Machuca, Head of General Services, La Coipa.

Our latest ‘Best Mining Story’ is a rescue tale about tourists who were stranded after their car broke down close to La Coipa. Cristian Machuca, Head of General Services, La Coipa, was there that day to help rescue the tourists and shared his story with us: 

“It happened last September when two Argentinian tourists, Francisco Javier del Villar and Mario Juri, were visiting Chile on a road trip. They were trying to get to Tongoy, a coastal town that’s about a ten hour drive from the site when an earthquake and tsunami hit the region of Coquimbo.

The border crossings were closed due to the emergency and the pair was forced to take a long detour and ended up near La Coipa. But, their car broke down from a mechanical malfunction and they were stranded – right in the middle of the mountains, 3,500 metres above sea level in -16° weather. This is a very remote area with no stores or mechanics around. They needed quite a bit of help to get their car fixed or else they could have been in trouble.

That day at La Coipa, Dalibor Ataglich, Residence Manager, and myself were working at the camp. At our site checkpoint, we were alerted to the fact that a vehicle was stranded about 5 km from us. We immediately started the journey to find and help them.

We got to them around 6 p.m., after they had been stranded for hours, just in time before it started to get really dark. We were able to hitch the vehicle onto one of our machines and tow it back to site. We wanted to make sure that they were comfortable so we gave them a room and food at the camp. In the meantime, we worked to repair their car as quickly as possible. They stayed with us for three days, until the border crossing re-opened and they could finish their journey.

Francisco Javier and Mario sent a thank you letter to us when they arrived back home: ‘Without the help of Kinross, our fate would have been uncertain. Thank you Chilean brothers. You are an example to follow.’

I will forever keep that note. They were very grateful and we were glad to help.”

From left to right: Cristian Machuca, Head of General Services, La Coipa, and Dalibor Ataglich, Residence Manager, with the two Argentinian tourists, Francisco Javier del Villar and Mario Juri

Thumb’s up! Francisco Javier and Mario at La Coipa