The rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners could begin earlier than originally planned.
Officials say because enough progress has been made in preparing the rescue shaft, the operation could begin up to six hours ahead of schedule.
That could make the start time late on Tuesday night, Central European Time.
Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said: “We hope to reach the end of today, Tuesday, which is already the 68th day of the miners being trapped, by at least bringing one of them up to the surface. This is the goal we have set and we are working as fast as we can to achieve that.”
Hundreds of family members and friends are gathered at the mine, along with a large number of local and foreign reporters.
Chilean Health Minister Jaime Mañalich said: “The miners are a lot calmer than us and they are more confident than we are about the success of this operation.”
The men have spent 68 days some 700 metres under ground in the gold and copper mine in Chile’s northern Atacama desert.
As the rescue operation, “Mission Pheonix”, comes to a climax, relatives have been holding non-stop prayer vigils.