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Drill less hit more – the core of directional drilling

08/09/2023

Drill less but hit more targets – it’s the simple proposition propelling mining-tech partners IMDEX and Devico as they expand their world-class directional core drilling capabilities.

Devico is the leader in Directional Core Drilling (DCD), a technology it has developed and enhanced over more than 30 years.

Now the IMDEX/Devico partnership is looking to grow the market for the technology, which delivers sustainable mining operations through more focused and efficient exploration with decreased costs and lower environmental impact, including reduced water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions when compared with conventional drilling.

IMDEX Chief Operating Officer Shaun Southwell said the transition to directional core drilling was inevitable as exploration costs increased in the search for mineral deposits that are deeper and in more remote and unexplored regions.

“Resource companies need to take every advantage available to them so having the capacity to hit more targets with less exploration drilling delivers real quantifiable savings,” Mr Southwell said.

“Directional core drilling is one of the fastest growing markets as companies seek precision in their drilling programs.”

Time and cost savings from 20 to 50 percent are typical compared to conventional drilling.

The technology is well-suited in the search for geologically complex critical minerals, particularly with the capacity to drill multiple secondary drill holes from an initial mother hole and/or overcome natural deviation to hit intended targets.

Devico Chief Executive Officer Erlend Olso said that while directional core drilling added some short-term, resource companies were recognising the greater overall savings.

“Using directional core drilling provides precision and efficiency in exploration; you can hit more targets with a lot less metres drilled,” Mr Olso said.

“Resource companies save money in the exploration phase but also know that they can hit the targets and prove up the resource in a better, faster way. There are a lot of added benefits.

"A lot of drilling companies realise they can get ahead by working with us.

“The more widespread the technology is becoming, the more the resource companies are looking for drilling companies who can work with us in the most efficient way.”

Mr Olso said resource companies in Canada had been early adopters of the directional core drilling technology followed by Nordic countries, with South America over the past five to 10 years and more recently Africa.

Devico and IMDEX are planning to expand the directional core drilling market in Australia.

Anglo American Principal Geology and Resource Estimator Janne Siikaluoma credited Devico’s directional core drilling technology with delivering results that would not otherwise have been possible at its Sakatti copper, nickel and PGE deposit in Finland, 150km from the Arctic Circle.

“AA Sakatti Mining Oy has used Devico’s services in the Sakatti Cu-Ni-PGE project since 2017,” Siikaluoma said.

“Devico’s services and especially directional core drilling has been an important factor to be able to conduct accurate diamond drilling programs in deep and complex deposits located in environmentally sensitive areas like Sakatti.

“The Sakatti winter season 2022-2023 metallurgical drilling program with several multi-branch DCD-guided holes was completed on time with high technical quality.

“This enabled AA Sakatti Mining Oy to collect the metallurgical samples from the Sakatti Cu-Ni-PGE deposit by means of core drilling which was the priority one objective and very important for the future progress of the Sakatti project.

“Additionally, the successful drilling program enabled us to achieve a constant 25m drilling pattern in certain key areas of the deposit with the required 5m target precision (up to 800m depth) which would have not been possible by any other practical means.”