IMDEX is talking up the use of drilling fluids as part of its holistic focus on improving drilling performance when out in the field.
The company’s drilling optimisation solutions combine best-in-class technologies, sensors, and motors to deliver improved performances, but, for IMDEX Drilling Optimisation General Manager, Charles Macfadyen, drilling fluids are at the start of the value chain, maximising the data delivered from the company’s technology and tools.
“Costs are always increasing, so the emphasis is on precision drilling: drilling smart metres and drilling efficiently,” Macfadyen said.
“It all relies on fluids to be able to do that. Fluids are an essential part of the drilling process with the potential to unlock hidden productivity when used effectively.”
He says while the oil and gas industry has long understood the importance of fluids and the skills of mud engineers, the understanding within the mineral exploration community has not been as widespread.
“There is a big difference in the cost of exploration drilling between oil and gas, and mineral exploration, but the science and logic will come to mining; the understanding that it’s far more than just a fluid, there’s an understanding of what equates to precision and enhanced performance that makes it special.”
Additional costs caused by higher operational standards, environmental restrictions and increased hole depths will continue – and could be the catalyst for a greater understanding of the part played by fluids, according to IMDEX.
IMDEX has around 100 drilling fluid products to cater for specific regional and global requirements, with the most recent addition being AMC BORE HOLE STABILISER™ (BHS).
BHS is a multifunctional product formulated specifically for air drilling applications, particularly drill and blast applications.
It helps prevent a wide range of down-hole problems including poor collaring, hole decay or sidewall instability, provides a degree of lubrication to the hole and will improve the lifting capacity of the air stream for cuttings transportation, according to the company.
Use of BHS in an underground mine in Western Australia resulted in an increase of up to 40% more metres drilled per day, reduced drilling consumables by up to 50%, improved load times and explosives use for explosive crews, and reduced HSE risks through less manual handling to mobilise and install casing, IMDEX says.
“For drill and blast, the side wall imperative is for both function and efficiency,” Macfadyen said. “BHS delivers improved productivity while using less explosives and less redrills.
“IMDEX drilling fluids are much more than a fluid – you actually get the knowledge that comes not just from making premium fluids and understanding that over more than 30 years, but also the knowledge that comes from our understanding of the drilling market, and of rock knowledge.
“Others don’t have that rock knowledge. It’s the tangible knowledge that at any given moment in time you know what you’re drilling through, the geological understanding, the resource definition, the granular knowledge behind how to optimise your fluids program to cater for that.
“Whether it’s orientation, mineralogy or any geological understanding it’s the essential knowledge that you need to develop a fluid or optimise a drilling program.
“It puts us in a leading position. Unlike others, IMDEX is able to leverage intimate rock knowledge, lab capabilities and global mud engineers to unlock the potential of any drilling program.”
IMDEX’s presence in 70% of major mining operations globally has allowed the company to foster this knowledge, according to Macfayden.