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Spotlight

Pulling Core Samples from 2,400m below the Surface

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 20:16

When mining began in Mexico around 500 years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that, one day, accurate core samples would be taken 2,400m below the surface. It seems appropriate to take a moment and visualize the technology and operating expertise needed for a compact machine to lift 50,000lb of drill rods and hard rock core samples up to the surface from depths of up to 24 football fields below the surface. But with advances in high technology and modern manufacturing processes, this is now a reality happening 24 hours a day in the hot Sonoran desert.

Armando Lucero, the Director of Operations at Globexplore Drilling, explains how the company melds technology with service. “After several clients came to us with targets deeper than 2,000m, we went to work with our preferred rig builder in Canada. We honestly believe that this boutique rig builder is the most prestigious and exclusive rig manufacturer in the world. We have built several RC rigs together, which are at the forefront of innovation in design, reliability, efficiency and performance with a priority always on safety. A prime example of this successful collaboration is the Core Master, which was CADengineered from the ground up through five important factors: safety, efficiency, durability, ergonomics, and the environment. New technologies allowed us to incorporate safety guards that stop the operation of the rig at the split second the guard is opened.” Inclination sensors were added on the carrier to prevent the equipment from being moved onto slopes with a greater incline than allowed in safety norms. The Core Master’s automated rod handlers can be operated by remote control to eliminate tripping hazards presented by cables. This operation ensures all the heavy lifting is done at a distance, which removes the most common cause of injuries. Furthermore, instead of just one emergency stop button, Globexplore added multiple buttons around the rig, so operators can shut the rig down quickly from any position. In addition, the company added radio frequency stops on the rod handler remote control and the driller control panel, as well as one more for the rig supervisor. This adds a layer of security since the rig can now be stopped remotely from five different locations. A number of other improvements all have safety in mind. The engine now has an integrated fire suppression system, the mast has a lightning rod, and the non-slip platform completely encompasses the rig with railing to prevent falls. Finally, all high temperature and dangerous areas of rotation are fully covered for extra protection.

The Core Master was engineered with enough strength and power to drill up to 1,600m with a HWL diameter of 3.5 inches and 2,400m with a NWL diameter of 2.75 inches. Special attention was given in the design process to increase the accuracy and reduce deviation at these depths. The Core Master is built with 80,000lb of pull back force, giving it added power to get through extremely challenging ground conditions even at great depths. “On good ground, the Core Master can easily drill upwards of 100m per day,” says Lucero. “Meanwhile, the Cummins QSL9 350hp engine offers an excess of power while the built-in computer limits output relative to the force needed, which reduces fuel consumption and wear and tear. We used the highest quality aircraft-grade hydraulic systems from the most respected manufacturers in the industry. The drill was built in the extreme cold of northern Canada yet designed with modern hydraulic coolers to operate in the scorching deserts of Mexico.” Globexplore also challenged the design team to make the Core Master as compact and ergonomic as possible. Fitting in a pad size as small as 5 by 8m, it is close to half the size of other deep hole rigs on the market. This allows for a smaller environmental impact and less expensive drill pad and road construction. To cater to increasingly stringent environmental concerns, double-wall hydraulic, fuel, and oil tanks were used to prevent leaks. As an added measure, full drip pans were installed to catch any leak before it hits the ground. The rig also meets US and Canadian emissions standards.

Lucero is confident that the Core Master is the most efficient, modern, innovative, safest deep hole rig in the world. “This is true from the initial request to the conceptual stage, from the CAD process to the highest quality laser-cut steel and alloys, from the top quality components to the new hydraulic systems, and from the initial client request to the conceptual stage. As drill rigs go, it is not bad to look at either.” As more of its clients explore deeper targets, Globexplore looks forward to building more Core Masters in 2015 and beyond.