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June 5, 2015
Where dinosaurs once trod, giants of a different nature now roar. An expansion of Argentina’s road network is under way that will connect national routes.
The mountains of Ischigualasto in Argentina’s northern province of San Juan boast the world’s largest collection of dinosaur remains from the Triassic period (195–225 million years ago). But there’s nothing prehistoric about the big yellow machines that are now making their way through the rock.
These are Atlas Copco drill rigs – a Boomer E2 C and a Boomer XE3 C, the first of its kind in Argentina – that are being used to develop a series of six road tunnels along Route 150 near the Chilean border. When the project is complete in 2013, the tunnels will help to link up the country’s complex road network and will also eventually provide a modern road system stretching across South America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Route 150 runs through a section of mountains with geological formations older than the Andes. Once a fertile paradise for the dinosaurs that roamed the land, it is now a hostile desert with wide temperature extremes. On top of that, the tunnel sites are in an area created to protect the fossils, which dictates not only the direction that the roads and tunnels are permitted to take but also their characteristics.
Daniel Castro, road construction and mining manager for Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles, says he is impressed with the performance of the Atlas Copco rigs: “When the rigs arrived, two Atlas Copco technicians from Sweden came and trained our drillers, who were then able to train other drillers. The value of this training is that we have not had a single breakdown caused by misuse or incorrect operation.”
Written by Atlas Copco