Air Core Drilling: What it is and what's good about it?
Introduction to the Benefits of Air Core Drilling
Air core drilling, also known as pneumatic drilling or dual tube reverse circulation drilling, is a drilling method that uses compressed air to flush cuttings out of the borehole. It's a cost-effective and efficient drilling method that's commonly used for shallow exploration projects.
Short History of Air Core Drilling
Air core drilling was developed in Australia in the early 1960s as a way to drill through soft, unconsolidated materials. Over the years, the technology has improved, and air core drilling is now a popular method for exploring shallow deposits of minerals and other resources.
How Does Air Core Drilling Work?
Air core drilling uses a dual-tube system, where the inner tube is used to collect the cuttings, and the outer tube is used to provide compressed air to flush the cuttings out of the borehole. The drill bit is attached to a hollow drill stem, which is rotated and driven into the ground. As the drill bit cuts through the ground, the compressed air flows through the outer tube and forces the cuttings up through the inner tube and out of the borehole.
The Benefits & Advantages of Air Core Drilling
One of the main benefits of air core drilling is its efficiency. The use of compressed air means that cuttings can be quickly and easily removed from the borehole, allowing drilling to proceed at a faster pace than other drilling methods. Additionally, air core drilling is a cost-effective method, making it an attractive option for exploration projects with limited budgets.
Another advantage of air core drilling is its ability to obtain representative samples of the material being drilled. This allows for a better understanding of the geology of the area being explored and can aid in the estimation of mineral resources. Air core drilling is also well-suited for projects that require large sample volumes, as the dual-tube system allows for quick and easy collection of cuttings.
The Disadvantages of Air Core Drilling
While air core drilling has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages. One major disadvantage is that it's not suitable for drilling through hard rock formations, as the drill bit can become easily damaged. Additionally, air core drilling is not as effective at providing detailed geological information as other drilling methods such as diamond drilling.
Safety & Environmental Considerations
Safety and environmental considerations are essential when using air core drilling. Operators must comply with local regulations and best practices to minimize the impact on the environment and protect worker safety. The use of compressed air can create dust, which can be harmful to workers and the environment, so proper dust suppression measures should be in place.
The Difference Between Diamond Drilling and Air Core Drilling
The main difference between diamond drilling and air core drilling is the type of sample that is produced. Diamond drilling produces a solid core sample, while air core drilling produces a pulverized cuttings sample. Diamond drilling is ideal for detailed geological information, while air core drilling is better suited for a general understanding of subsurface geology.
The Difference Between RC Drilling and Air Core Drilling
RC drilling and air core drilling are two commonly used drilling methods in mineral exploration. While air core drilling uses compressed air to flush cuttings out of the borehole, RC drilling uses a pneumatic reciprocating piston to deliver rapid impacts to the drill stem. Air core drilling is better suited for shallow exploration projects, while RC drilling is better suited for deeper drilling projects.
In conclusion, air core drilling is a cost-effectiveand efficient method for shallow mineral exploration projects. It allows for quick and easy collection of representative cuttings samples, making it a valuable tool for estimating mineral resources. However, it's not suitable for drilling through hard rock formations and doesn't provide as much detailed geological information as other drilling methods. Safety and environmental considerations must also be taken into account when using air core drilling.
As a geologist, it's important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different drilling methods when planning an exploration project. Air core drilling can be a useful tool for shallow exploration projects with limited budgets, but for deeper drilling projects or those requiring more detailed geological information, other drilling methods such as diamond drilling or RC drilling may be more appropriate. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different drilling methods, geologists can make informed decisions that lead to more successful exploration projects.
Some Australian Aircore Drilling Contractors
Precision Drilling Australia
A new generation drilling company, Precision Drilling Australia offers state-of-the-art equipment and a team with over 25 years of experience. Building a strong reputation in the industry for being team players and reliable, the Precision Drilling Australia team can support diamond core drilling, RC, AC, hydro and water drilling across Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia.
Learn more about Precision Drilling Australia here
Built with a purpose, DDSR Australia aims to make the drilling industry more sustainable through reducing greenhouse gases and the carbon footprint on equipment. Specialising in aircore, diamond drilling and RC methods of drilling, the DDSR Australia team is actively finding ways to eliminate the diesel engine, with an aim to run without carbon emissions in the next 12 - 18 months if successful.
Learn more about DDSR Australia here
Family-owned and operated, Bullion Drilling provides top-of-the-line aircore, RAB and RC drilling services Australia-wide. The Bullion Drilling team values customer satisfaction above all and can tailor their services and drilling programs to meet their customers needs.
Learn more about Bullion Drilling here
How to find more Australian aircore drill contractors:
At CorePlan, we work closely with a number of aircore drill contractors to help manage their drilling business needs. To make it easier to find them, we’ve created The Ultimate Drill Contractor Directory which covers where each contractor operates, how many rigs they have, what types of drilling methods they utilise and even what sets their company apart so we can match up the best partnership for the job.
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Exploration teams at Mining Companies (and Exploration companies) use CorePlan's Exploration Hub to plan, run and manage their drill programs.
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