Rescue workers revealed on Sunday that they were close to breaking through to 33 gold miners trapped for 10 days after a tunnel collapsed in the country's Andes mountains.
Mines Minister Laurence Golborne reported that engineers, who have been drilling a new passage towards an emergency refuge where it is hoped the miners managed to escape, would finish on Monday.
The workers have been trapped since the August 5 collapse at the San Jose gold and silver mine in northern Chile and rescuers have had no contact with them.
If the miners are found alive in the refuge, engineers will lower water, oxygen and a system of communication through the newly drilled holes, Mr Golborne explained.
Relatives blame the mine's owners for the accident, but San Jose company executives claim that the operation complied with regulations.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has already fired the head of Chile's mining watchdog in an attempt to defuse a public outcry over the accident, and he has also vowed to punish those responsible for the accident and overhaul mine safety supervision.
Union leaders said accidents were common in small mines that lack tough controls.
"I know it's dangerous, but I need the money. I need to provide for my family," said miner Miguel Valenzuela, who earned 300,000 Chilean pesos (Â£380) a month at San Jose.
"This mine cost me my finger and the legs and arms of many others," San Jose mine union leader Javier Castillo added, holding up his hand.
"We need to stop this problem, which has been simmering for years, now," he demanded.