The Future of DrillingMon, 10/22/2018 - 14:36
Early explorers used to dig only in areas with visible mineralization as they did not have the specialized tools that are available today. Technology has changed that, creating greater prospects for success, says Peter Shortus, General Manager of Landdrill. “New technologies create greater opportunities for exploration companies to identify drilling targets with a far better likelihood of success while allowing miners to be safer and to work more easily and efficiently,” he says.
Technological advancements enable the rapid assessment of a given ore body and the abundance of historical mines in Mexico makes it a great place to start looking. Aiming to help operators reduce the costs of drilling while optimizing production rates, Landdrill offers underground and surface drilling as well as man-portable rigs for difficult-to-access areas. “We have rigs capable of drilling up to 2,500m NQ,” says Shortus. The company also offers Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling with a face sampling hammer or kit bit, which is similar to RC rotary air blasting. “These are relatively cheap, efficient and rapid forms of drilling to assess the potential of an area to become an ore body,” he adds. RC has been a preferred form of drilling in Australia for many years as it requires minimal use of water.
Landdrill has more than 40 years of experience in the exploration drilling industry in Australia, Chile, Mongolia, Russia and Mexico. Many of those years were spent using different forms of drilling. “This experience leads me to appreciate the impact that new technologies have on bringing about safer production and a better use of equipment to produce quality samples,” Shortus says.
Its extensive experience has also taught the company to survive at low prices. “But this is not sustainable in the long term as it limits the industry’s R&D opportunities,” Shortus says. Not all companies have been as resilient as Landdrill and mining downturns have forced many good technicians to move onto other fields due to lack of employment opportunities. The company too has lost some good employees but because it is used to operating internationally, it has also had the flexibility to bring qualified personnel from overseas.
Shortus, however, does perceive an industry upturn, which is reawakening the appetite for exploration. “The positive outlook is allowing us to expand our activities,” he says. To find new projects, the company has a precise strategy. “We analyze press releases to identify projects that have a strong potential for our services and follow up on these companies,” he adds.