Swent: Where were you in the mine at that time? Haldeman: We were way back in there, just like the square wheel that is undercutting directly on top of timber, heavy ground. We had quite a big labor force, about three or four thousand underground alone. After we modified the mining system, putting a solid block in between the undercut level and the draw level and ran finger raises up through it, a different type of mining, we cut the labor force down to maybe a thousand or nine hundred, about 25 percent of what it had been before. There you didn't have all of this heavy timberwork and maintenance and the likes. Swent: What kind of machinery were you using? Haldeman: Oh, just standard stopers. They didn't even have the jacklegs then; you just took the hand drills and held them up yourself. The jackleg came in later on. Swent: The equipment was mechanized, though? Haldeman: Oh, yes, we had air and all that. But ventilation-forget it. When I was in there they had dry drilling in half of the mine, and I have partial silicosis from that. We were a highly silicotic mine, if you want to put it that way. As time went on we had modern safety measures put in. The Chilean legislators started putting heavy fines on industrial illnesses, sicknesses, and diseases, including silicosis, and management perked up and started to clean up the air. Sewell in winter:
Swent: When did that happen? Haldeman: It was gradual, and maybe the mine fire precipitated a lot of it.
Swent: Ventilation particularly. Haldeman: Yes, absolutely. That's about the time it started to take off. I would say we went to wet drilling at the time of the mine fire. Swent: That was in 1945.
Index to Haldeman Interview