Learn more about surface drilling

Learn more about surface drilling
29 November 2018

Drilling is an essential step in the process of mineral exploitation because it is used to determine whether an area is suitable for mineral extraction or not.

Pre-drilling soil study

When any site has a high potential as determined after preliminary analyses, a soil study is required. The choice of a soil sampling method depends on factors like:

  • Geological characteristics of the ground;
  • Depth to dig;
  • Desired diameter of the well;
  • Planned technical methods;
  • Budget allocated to the specific site.

A business may need to perform this operation in places that are difficult to access or in hostile environments. In these cases, surface drilling is a practical solution.

Diamond drilling: a favourite technique

Diamond drilling is a favourite surface drilling technique. The drill used to collect soil samples has a polycrystalline synthetic diamond bit that is able to drill through all types of soil, even the hardest. One of its important characteristics is its astonishing mobility. The machine is smaller than the drills usually used for this and can be moved by just one or two people. Certain models are on tracks and thus easy to move.

The surface drilling process

Surface drilling is a simple process. The well is dug by the rotational action of the drill turning on a vertical axis, breaking and chewing up the rocks. A pump is often used to bring water to the surface and prevent complications. This solid drill easily brings “core” samples in the shape of rock cylinders to the surface.

The well drilled by the machine may be only a few metres long. The dimensions of the sample may vary depending on the type of equipment used. In general, core samples are 2 to 15 centimetres in diameter. Different minerals, different metals or different types of soil may be present in varying quantities in the core samples.

Discover the potential of a mining site

Surface drilling can be beneficial for a mining company because it’s one of the first steps to discovering major deposits of material or minerals. If a site, after surface drilling operations, presents a high potential, underground drilling may be undertaken. It’s important, however, to study the risk that a sample contains anomalous data and is not representative of the site. This can definitely tip the scales between a disappointment and a remarkable discovery that will revolutionize the mining industry.