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3 Examples of Old School vs. New School in Diamond Drilling

posted by Rod McCoremick, Blog author, Fordia Powered by Epiroc

March 26, 2018

With PDAC now over, it is pretty clear to everyone that this is the dawn of a new economic upturn in our industry. While this is great news, it does bring with it the problem of trying to find qualified employees, a topic we covered in an earlier blog. Many of our readers mention hiring as one of their most pressing challenges.


Fordia Driller training Additives & Lubricants 2018

As mining and drilling companies continue to hire new young and less experienced staff, I think the ranks may soon be divided between old school and new school. Older, more experienced drillers have their way of doing things and the new school is open to newer methods. This makes for an interesting time at a drill site. Here ae three areas where we may find differences.


1)  Drilling fluid additives versus bentonite

It used to be that the best way to condition a bore hole was to use bentonite and it often was the only choice. Bentonite did a good job of creating a filter cake on the bore hole wall, but it restricted the flow of the cuttings while doing so.  Old school drillers trust bentonite because it is tried and true but achieving a specific viscosity can be difficult.

Polymers can do the same job as bentonite but with a lot of extra benefits. For example, DD-2000 or DD-Xpress coats the inside walls of the borehole, protecting the hole and helping to control water loss, and it is non-abrasive. It also raises the viscosity of the drilling fluids so that cuttings can be more easily flushed out.

Technology has touched all industries and diamond drilling is no exception. It has allowed certain new products to be developed that address specific drilling issues. Such products include polymers such as Sand Drillfor sandy ground, DD-955 for shale or clay conditions, and DD-Xpand for fractured ground.


2)  Polymers versus grease

Protecting your drill rods and other drilling equipment is key to prolonging lifespan and reducing vibration and wear and tear. Many old school diamond drillers always used rod grease. Drillers would dip their glove in a bucket of grease and slap it on. Drill rod grease was the way to go.

Drill rod grease is still important and can still be used, but products such as Torqueless and DD-2000 offer some additional benefits when they are mixed together. The mix will lubricate your equipment, reduce wear and tear and reduce rust on rods. Most importantly, it reaches all the parts of your drilling equipment and reaches all the way to the bottom of the hole where your bit is. When you are drilling in a deep hole, the grease you apply before sending your rods down will not reach the core bit at the bottom in sufficient quantity. Like the name says, Torqueless reduces torque and because it is mixed into the drill water, as it circulates it cools and flushes the bit and all the rest of the equipment.


3) Going online versus not going online

The information that is available online has touched every industry, diamond drilling included. Buyers can do a vast amount of research on products and services without leaving their offices. Many old school drillers like to walk into the nearest shop and talk to their favourite technical field support rep to get answers or advice, and it’s a great way to build a relationship with a rep so he understands your operation. However, when you are on a site and you want to get info quickly, it’s great to have online options. Blogs such as this one, guides, videos and other materials are all available online. With a simple click on your smartphone, you can find answers to all kinds of technical questions and connect with other diamond drillers in other countries.

Find all our resources here.  


At the end of a day, each group can learn something from the other as long as minds remain open. While change is not always accepted with open arms, it can lead to better ways of doing things. Our technical team can visit or advise drill teams on the newest technology in drilling equipment and products so you can improve drilling performance.