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Common issues that get in the way of drilling. Have you experienced these on your project?

July 25, 2023

Common issues that get in the way of drilling. Have you experienced these on your project?

Drill Program Planning
For Exploration Managers
Written by
Megan Gammie

Inefficient use of drill rigs can cost mineral exploration projects thousands of dollars every day. Getting bits on the bottom- and keeping them turning - is essential to being able to make that discovery.

But as any explorationist knows, this is easier said than done. Getting drills into the ground can be a complex process, involving multiple stakeholder groups, working teams, legal requirements and logistical challenges. But once that application is approved, you’re on the clock and you need to be able to move quickly and respond to anything that might impede the progress of the drill.

This is where the concept of drilling enablement comes in. 

Drilling enablement means your team are empowered to take the appropriate steps at the right time to maximise the amount of time that bit spends the bottom - and the ability to take action to prevent any foreseeable issues from getting in the way. 

To get this right, you need to be organised and communicate well with your team. Which sounds easy - but, of course, it’s never as easy as it sounds!

Here are just a few of the ways that exploration teams can get it wrong.

Have you ever made one of these mistakes when running an exploration program?

Excessive lag time on movement of the drill

Timely drill movement is a team effort. 

Effective communication between departments, the ground team and office teams is essential. Any missed step, delay, error or failure to communicate can create delays down the chain - and waste your budget on standby.

But when teams operate in silos, or every exploration program runs to a different set of processes, it can be difficult to ensure a smooth workflow and clear communication between departments - which can be further exacerbated by the distance between the field and the office. 

This can create grey areas in communication or direction on what to do next, affecting the team’s ability to quickly and confidently adapt to changes in the drill plan, mobilise in response to shifting timelines or get to the field quickly once you get receive approval.

Choosing the wrong rig

Have you ever started drilling only to question whether the selected rig was up for the job? Perhaps this wasn’t in your control - budget or rig availability could have forced your hand.

When you can see the rig on-site drilling, everything might appear to be fine. But what you won’t necessarily know until you get your monthly invoice is that you were being stung by minimum shift rate - meanwhile falling more and more behind schedule each day - and burning excess cash whilst getting fewer metres for your relative spend. 

Blowing out the budget

Drilling costs are one of those things that tend to creep up when you’re not paying attention. This can become problematic when you have a strict budget and a set number of drill holes that you need to find a way to make work. Overspend on one hole and might have to compromise resources for subsequent holes - holes that could be hiding your next big hit, without you even realising it.

What could be more frustrating than physically having the rig on-site, but not being in a cash position to get the most out of it?

Q: What’s common about all these problems?
A: You can’t always see them. 

Typically, these problems are hidden away in team silos or spreadsheets - places where they can fester.

When they do emerge, they tend not to be as easy to fix as they would have been if you had tackled them days or weeks ago. But if you had some way of predicting them by being able to see patterns emerging, perhaps you could have prevented them in the first place…

Drilling enablement through better communication and data sharing

CorePlan’s Exploration Hub enables exploration teams to visualise what’s happening in the field in real-time to better understand the opportunities and risks to maximal utilisation of drill rigs on their projects. 

It’s a single digital workspace for your entire team to manage every aspect of the drill hole lifecycle and keep the drills turning - without the hassle of spreadsheets and emails. Think one place for:

  • scheduling rigs and planning workstreams
  • executing and tracking pre and post-drilling activities
  • managing drilling, drill contractors and data
  • dispatching and tracking samples
  • budgeting and reporting

and more. This gives your team the tools to quickly identify and predict the risk of holes and drills falling behind schedule, prevent overspending on drilling and manage rig performance for optimal program outcomes.

It’s drilling enablement but made easy.

Final thoughts

Maximising bit-on-bottom time can help get you closer to discovery. By recognising and addressing some of the common issues that hinder the drill from turning and drilling effectively, exploration teams can save time, money and effort on their projects.

CorePlan’s Exploration Hub can help by bringing real-time visibility, effective communication channels and streamlined data management that simplifies the process of drilling enablement. This empowers your exploration team to maximise drill utilisation and program performance.

Explore the solution by booking a free product demo today.

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