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8 Tips for Increasing Productivity in Diamond Drilling

posted bythe Epiroc Exploration & OreBody Solutions team

November 12, 2018

Diamond drilling is all about productivity. Drillers and the companies they work for are all interested in finding ways to increase productivity. Sometimes, one major issue will have a negative impact on drilling productivity, and fixing it is all it takes. Sometimes, productivity is improved by tweaking a bunch of little things. If you adjust several things, the results can make a big difference. So this blog looks at 8 tips for increasing your productivity.

Fordia 2018

1) Improve your ROP (Rate of Penetration)

The rate of penetration is a key parameter in diamond drilling. If you can improve your ROP, you can get the highest rewards for the least work. A good ROP makes sure that your operation functions economically. To improve your ROP, you need to find the best drilling parameters for the rock type and rock condition, combined with the best core bit and crown configuration for that type of ground. The ROP is a result of using the correct WOB (Weight on Bit), water circulation and rotation speed (RPM). 

2) Buy high quality equipment

The old saying goes “you get what you pay for” and this definitely applies in diamond drilling. Trying to save money by buying cheap drill rods or core bits may result in you having to change the core bit more often or the drill rods breaking prematurely. When you are in a deep hole, the time wasted to perform this kind of maintenance can have a serious impact on productivity.

3) Extend bit life

As mentioned above, every driller wants to get as much life out of his bit as possible. This means making sure it is not damaged before it starts drilling and avoiding having to stop operations in order to change the bit. 

4) Choose the right equipment

Choosing the right equipment for the job is essential. The choice of the right core bit is probably one of the most influential decisions on drilling performance. Many variables will need to be considered including ground hardness, variability, abrasiveness, and competency as well as the type of drill rig used, driller experience and depth of drilling expected. There are also choices to be made regarding the type of configuration of the crown. The choice of reaming shell, core barrel, core lifter system and drill rods can all impact productivity. 

5) Use higher crowns

The fewer times you need to change a core bit, the more time you get to spend getting core. Some ground will eat through a bit more quickly so a higher crown can reduce the number or times you will need to stop operations. A crown configuration such as the Vulcan comes in 16 mm, 20 mm and 26 mm. These higher crowns are ideal for deep hole drilling.

6) Perform regular maintenance

Inspect all the equipment you will be using and make sure all the parts are working as they should be. Verify that they are clean and lubricated. Use a degreaser if necessary and make sure rod threads are coated with thread compound.

7) Use additives

The addition of drilling fluid additives to your mud program can reduce operational costs and improve performance in a number of ways including reducing the likelihood of stalled drilling operations. Additives lubricate your equipment, prolong its lifespan by reducing wear and tear and limit rust on rods. Additives can help with issues such as collapsing holes, dry holes and holes that are abrasive and sandy. They ensure that your drill mud has the necessary viscosity to easily carry and flush rock cuttings from the bore hole and keep them from setting at the bottom of the hole. This helps reduce wear and lowers friction which in turn cools the core bit.

8) Be organized

Every minute that you are not drilling is time that you are not collecting core. Be organized and prepare exhaustive lists of everything you will need for the project. This way you can avoid wasting time going back to your camp to get the one little part that keeps the guys from drilling. Depending on how remote the site is, that trek could take a while and the crew will be left behind with a half a million dollars’ worth of equipment, twiddling their thumbs. Make sure your list includes parts for diamond tools, engines, pumps, tooling, fluids, accessories, consumables and other categories. 

Performance, productivity and profitability are all linked together. Our goal is to help improve drilling performance and accelerate the transformation of our industry. I f you need advice or guidance with a particular drilling challenge, check out our learning library or contact our technical team.