Officials in Chile say the rescue shaft they are drilling to free 33 trapped copper miners could reach the men by Saturday.
Chile's mining minister, Laurence Golborne, told reporters Thursday that once the drill breaks through, it could take anywhere from three to 10 days to bring the men to safety.
Golborne said experts will have to analyze the soil and rock around the bore to determine if a metal reinforcement is needed to secure the shaft. He said that process could take as long as three days.
The officials say a drill boring the rescue shaft is now within 100 meters of where the miners are located.
The men have been trapped more than 600 meters underground since early August. Crews have been sending food, water, games, letters and other items to the men through small supply shafts.