6 Kilometers Underground

PTFI has several of the fastest growing underground mines in the industry. In 2017, when GBC (Grasberg Block Cave) begins production, it will be the largest underground hard rock mine in the world, and PTFI’s collection of GBC, DOZ (Deep Ore Zone), DMLZ (Deep Mill Level Zone), and Big Gossan will make up the largest underground mining complex in history. Technologically advanced systems of remote-operated and autonomous machines will control loaders, ore chutes, rock breakers, and train ore haulage systems around a labyrinth of tunnels to pull about 240,000 metric tons of ore from the mountain every day. It will be a sight to see!

Even today, the functions of PTFI’s underground mines are a remarkable display of mining prowess. Chris took Ally on a tour of two of the mines that are being developed, DMLZ and GBC, last Saturday morning.  Between these two mines, PTFI develops well over a kilometer of new tunnel each week.  Traveling six kilometers back into the deep, dark bowels of the Sudirman Mountain Range was an overwhelming and intimidating experience for Ally, but it is one that she will never forget.

A picture that Ally took of the underground portholes from Chris's office.

A picture that Ally took of the underground portals from Chris’s office.  These lead to DMLZ, Big Gossan, and GBC, which will set records for sophistication and production.  The adjacent waterfall, the surrounding rainforest, and the incredible terrain also make them some of the most beautiful mining portals on the planet.

Ally standing in front of Chris's parked vehicle.

After entering a portal and driving along several miles of underground road, Chris parked his vehicle, so they could get out and explore the area by foot. Ally loved how she could feel the penetrating vibrations of loud, moving trucks and loaders in the walls and the ground that surrounded her.


Chris and Ally dressed in full underground gear – hard hats with cap lamps, safety vests, safety glasses, earplugs, respirators (strapped around their necks), self-contained self rescuers (strapped around their waists), and steel-toed boots.


The expression in Ally’s eyes describes her experience of going underground  – “Holy Crap!” In this photo, a large loader was quickly making its way towards her. She thought she was its target; Chris knew it was turning to her left down another tunnel.

Ally standing near the loader after it stopped and parked.

Ally standing near the loader after it stopped and parked. She was hoping to get a picture standing next to an explosives truck, but they didn’t stop when she and Chris were there.

Another picture of Ally near the loader.

Ally standing near the front of a specialized mining machine with a web of tunnels behind her.

Before they went underground, they had to check in using a tracking system, so the mine rescue team knew to look for them if there was an emergency. Ally was relieved when she checked out after the tour.

Before anyone goes underground, they have to check in using a tracking system, so the mine rescue team knows who to look for  if there is an emergency. Ally was relieved when she checked out and was back on the surface, but was disappointed that the tour was over.

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5 Responses to 6 Kilometers Underground

  1. Claire Williams says:

    Such amazing experiences your family continues to have.

  2. Don Doody says:

    Very interesting. It gave me the willies just thinking about being that far underground. Thanks. Hope all is well with all of you.


  3. Cheri says:

    That’s one interesting and scary job. That would be a good field trip for any age to keep them from wondering off. Ya right. 😉 Hey we are going to Idaho July 4th weekend and possibly July 24th weekend. Caden’s mission president called to see if he would come in August instead of July. They have a lot of missionaries now that the age is 18. He will leave to go on his mission August 26th.

  4. christian tino says:

    i was worked in there in 2009-2011 @ big gossan mine, it was really amazing experience ever working as a miner underground in the world larges mining company

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