Luis Urzua, the last miner brought out of the mine, celebrates. Photo from the Chilean Presidential Press Office.

Families and crowds rejoiced on Wednesday, as each of the 33 Chilean miners was brought to the surface . They had been trapped deep underground for sixty-nine days.

But for the miners, and the government, new challenges are right around the corner.

Around the globe, people tuned in to television, news and radio, to share in the joy as rescuers brought the 33 miners up from their underground shelter. The rescue operation began bringing up one miner per hour. Later they were able to bring several in a two hour time span, which sped up the total amount of time the rescue would take.  Upon reaching the surface, some miners cheered, some chanted, some prayed, and they all held on to those they have been separated from since the mine collapsed August 5.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said the total cost of the operation was between $10 and $20 million, but that it was well spent. The miners were all deemed to be in good shape, considering the events, and some are even scheduled to leave the hospital on Thursday afternoon. 

However, now that they are all free, longer term struggles will begin. The government must address and deal with the safety of mine workers, determine what went wrong in this instance, and decide how to improve safety standards.

Chile’s Ambassador to the U.S. says that there are differences in the standards set forth for large mining companies and smaller ones. For this reason, the large companies have impeccable safety standards, while the smaller to mid-size ones do not.

For the miners, the struggle will be how to master the new lives they have been given. These men are now in the spotlight.  They will be inundated with messages and wishes from people near and far. They will have constant questions. For a while they will have news reporters to contend with and people snapping photos. They will certainly be approached by book publishers, TV, and movie producers.

They may also have to deal with lawsuits against their employer due to the incident.