Martin Fitch-Roy
Managing Director
Dando Drilling
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View from the Top

Diverse Drilling Solutions for Mexican Mining Market

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 16:28

Q: How does Dando Drilling expect the global drilling industry to evolve?

A: Dando Drilling (Dando) trades in many countries around the world, meaning that we know that the depression in the hard-rock metal mining exploration industry is a global issue. Fortunately, our company does not depend entirely on this market as energy drilling and coal exploration in East Asia are both very much on the up. Water well drilling and drilling services to dewater mines are also very active. This shows that while some areas of the drilling industry are facing challenges, other segments provide many opportunities to those who can detect them. Drilling service providers need to diversify because there is business to be found outside hard-rock mineral exploration.

Q: What opportunities has Dando detected in the Mexican market?

A: We believe there is a demand for water well drilling, not only for providing water supplies but also for mine site dewatering. The deeper mining companies go, the more water they will find, creating a necessity for the type of services we provide. Our conversations with top hydrogeological experts in Mexico have shown us that the country needs heavy-duty machinery to dewater mines. Dando Drilling can provide both the equipment and the drilling for this process. We find Mexico to be a very comfortable country to operate in; it has a significantly large and dynamic mining sector, and we believe the situation will continue to improve. Energold, the drilling services company that acquired us in 2011, has 30 mineral exploration rigs in the country across many projects, granting us access to its portfolio of clients. The main challenge will be the competition we will face from other manufacturers and contractors. However, we are confident that our knowledge and expertise in water well drilling will allow us to succeed in the market. We are also keen on finding Mexican clients for our multi-purpose drilling rigs, which can be used for mineral, water, geotechnical, and GSHP drilling. Mexico has never seen anything like it.

Q: How will Dando’s successful British manufacturing heritage be of use for its Latin American operations?

A: Our heritage in the UK dates back to 1867, so we have had lots of time to perfect our technology. While we are not doing much in the UK or Europe for now, we are the last active drilling rig business in the UK. Comparatively, Mexico presents a buoyant economy for mining without much competition. The country does not have a big drill manufacturer of its own, so most of the equipment is being imported. Dando Drilling will service all of Latin America by manufacturing in Mexico. We will then sell to other countries, including Peru and Venezuela. Our success here will be based upon us meeting the expectations of the Mexican market. Mining operations want companies that can drill a dewatering well and conduct geotechnical drilling as part of the same package. Dando can provide all of these services.

Q: How are Dando’s technologies prepared to adjust to different environments and requirements?

A: We have carried out all the types of drilling that are required in Mexico. Latin America tends to see mineral deposits being found at high altitudes, which is an issue we have already addressed. It is simply a matter of using more horsepower. The engines we use in the Americas are much bigger than the ones we use in Europe. Our Mintec rigs are a range of exploration drilling rigs that use a reverse circulation (RC) system to protect the sample from the bit. These machines can perform up to 100m of RC drilling in an eight-hour shift. So even though it is expensive, pneumatic RC drilling is very fast and lowers the rate per meter. It is also extremely versatile as it can perform core drilling, exploration drilling, or drill a water well, just by changing an attachment.

Q: How does Dando’s range of drilling fluid products help improve operational performance?

A: We provide drilling fluids for different exploration segments. In water well drilling, bentonite is traditionally used to make the drilling easier and keep the hole open. We do not fully recommend this nowadays as there are far more efficient products, such as the polymers, that we can now provide. They are biodegradable, non-toxic, and highly viscous. Our products considerably simplify the drilling process and do not contaminate the permeable rock formations. The polymer we provide is one of the most viscous products in existence.