Tag Archives: Kent Swick

Orexplore and St Barbara agree on GeoCore X10 core scanning contract deferral

Swick Mining Services says its Mineral Technology Business, Orexplore, is pushing back the delivery of its first in-field commercial agreement with St Barbara Ltd at the Gwalia mine in Leonora, Western Australia, following discussions with the gold miner.

The contractor announced back in August that it would scan some 1,500 m/mth of core over a six-month period at the Gwalia mine, conducting technical assessment over a number of potential benefits of the detailed core analysis and a high volume of quality data generated by the GeoCore X10 instrument. It was expecting to mobilise the GeoCore X10 shortly after a formal contract was signed.

In an update on Friday, the company said: “Following discussions with the client, and due to their operational priorities, it has been agreed that the contract will be deferred to financial year 2022.”

This decision has also had an impact on Swick’s planned demerger of the Orexplore business, with the ASX-listed company now saying it will defer the transaction “to allow greater time to seed the commercialisation pathway with initial commercial projects”.

It added: “Swick considers securing commercial projects is a key step in developing a clear pathway for the commercialisation of Orexplore’s technology, and therefore for a successful demerger.”

As a result of the deferral of the demerger, Jason Marinko has resigned from the recently created Managing Director role. Marinko will leave the business effective mid-February and Kent Swick, Managing Director of Swick Mining, will lead Orexplore as it works towards a demerger.

Swick Mining Services goes all-in on underground drilling

Swick Mining Services has decided to sell its surface drilling business and concentrate on underground mining in a move Managing Director, Kent Swick, says is a logical step for the company “aligned with our strategy”.

The Surface Reverse Circulation (RC) Drilling business is being sold to K-Drill Pty Ltd and K-Drill Equipment Pty Ltd.

The sale includes six surface RC rigs, associated equipment, inventory, personnel and contracts, with the transaction expected to complete in the March quarter of 2021.

Including the recent sale of a number of residual RC assets to other parties, Swick will receive total proceeds for its RC business and assets of around A$6.4 million ($4.8 million) in cash and will report a profit on sale of some A$1.2 million before tax, it said.

K-Drill is a new RC drilling company that will be specialising in providing high quality, safe and productive drilling solutions to the Australian mining industry, Swick said. It will be building on the foundations set by Swick and will be led by Managing Director, Brendan O’Shea, who is Swick’s current Business Development Manager.

The Surface RC Drilling business provides reserve definition and exploration drilling to clients and its sale enables Swick to focus on its core Underground Diamond (UD) Drilling business; a 70-rig fleet providing reserve definition and grade control drilling at producing mines. This business represents 96% of annual revenue, Swick says.

O’Shea said: “This opportunity will allow K-Drill to focus completely on surface drilling and we are pleased to provide clients with peace of mind in knowing that we will be bringing all current Swick RC employees and Swick’s existing robust operating systems to K-Drill, ensuring a smooth transition for existing clients.”

After the disposal of the RC division, Swick’s drilling revenue will be generated entirely by the company’s UD Drilling division. This division drills around 100,000 m/mth of core across four countries – Australia, USA, Portugal and Spain. It is on track to deliver a forecasted revenue of A$68-$70 million, with utilisation remaining strong with 13 rigs operating internationally, 25 in Western Australia (including two DeepEX rigs) and 20 across the rest of Australia in December 2020.

On top of the Surface RC drilling business sale, and in response to increased market demand, Swick has agreed to manufacture and sell its “world-class” GenII mobile drill rigs, it said. These rigs are the smallest footprint, but highest-powered mobile drill available on the market, according to Swick, with many unique features including a “world-class automation package”.

Four GenII rigs are currently under construction for two large global drilling contractors for use outside of Australia, Swick said.

In response to increased demand for drill rigs from both Swick’s in-house drilling division and expected interest by external customers, Swick is gearing up its engineering facility at its South Guildford, Western Australia headquarters, to meet this demand, it said.

Swick Engineering has appointed an experienced senior mechanical engineer for the role of Production Manger that will manage the engineering business and oversee the efficient builds and rebuilds of the GenII drills.

Swick Mining working on drilling and technology business demerger

Swick Mining Services says it is working towards a demerger of its drilling and mineral technology businesses following a strategic review.

The announcement came at the same time as the ASX-listed METS firm revealed Drilling Business revenue and EBITDA results of A$149.6 million ($111 million) and A$24.6 million, respectively, for its 2020 financial year. A 9% increase in underground metres drilled saw the company beat its 2019 financial revenue total of A$142.9 million, while the impacts of COVID-19 and ramp-up costs at the Pogo mine contract (Northern Star Resources) saw EBITDA drop from A$28.2 million in the previous financial year.

During this period, the company’s deep exploration division launched new DeepEX rigs, which Swick says are the world’s most powerful underground mobile rigs with capacities to drill exploration holes up to 3,000 m of NQ2 core. Two DeepEX hybrid rigs are currently deployed at client sites, it said.

And the company successfully completed on-site trials of its Orexplore technology, the major technology underpinning its mineral technology business.

These site-based trials were undertaken at Sandfire Resources’ DeGrussa copper-gold mine, in Australia, for a three-month pilot project and at Sweden-based mining and smelting company Boliden for a five-month paid pilot project.

“The first trial at the DeGrussa mine resulted in approximately 9,000 m of core scanned in total, generating 20 TB of 3D data – the largest and most continuous dataset of its kind in the world for a single mine site,” Swick said. “With the trial complete, Orexplore has engaged two world-class subject matter experts to assist Sandfire and other potential clients understand the benefits of a comprehensive Orexplore data set.”

Earlier this month, Swick said Orexplore had been awarded its first in-field commercial agreement with St Barbara Ltd at the Gwalia mine in Leonora, Western Australia.

Despite these wins over the last year-and-a-bit, the company said a strategic review had recommended the company carried out a demerger of the Drilling Business and the Mineral Technology Business.

This could be tied to the fact that, at a group level, Swick reported a net loss after tax of A$6 million in the 2020 financial year, which, it said, reflected the lower Drilling Business earnings and ongoing investment in the company’s Mineral Technology Business, Orexplore.

Swick Managing Director, Kent Swick, said: “Financial year 2020 has presented a unique and challenging set of circumstances with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The business has quickly adapted during this difficult period, ensuring we maintained continuity of operations and protected our people on site both internationally and locally.

“I am pleased with the ability of our Drilling Business to deliver robust earnings in this environment and secure new work with existing clients, including our two largest contracts for Northern Star and BHP, which provide a strong platform for the business as we enter the 2021 financial year.

“Meanwhile, our efforts in the Mineral Technology Business are starting to show value, with successful site-based, paid trials in the year for our Orexplore technology and the award of our first ever in-field commercial agreement earlier this month.

“We have a clear strategy for these two businesses and are now progressing with the outcome of our strategic review to demerge the Drilling Business and the Mineral Technology Business to allow them to pursue their respective strategies and ultimately deliver the greatest value to Swick shareholders.

“Meanwhile, Swick is in a strong financial position, with gearing excluding AASB16 lease liabilities reduced to A10.6 per cent in the year. Swick has A$12.7 million cash and A$18.5 million in undrawn facilities, providing the liquidity that has enabled us to win and deliver on new work, invest in new technologies including DeepEX and Orexplore, and continue providing value for shareholders in these uncertain times through dividends and share buybacks.”

Swick signs BHP, MATSA drilling contracts and inks first Orexplore commercial pact

Swick Mining Services Limited has secured new drilling contracts with BHP’s Olympic Dam mine and MATSA’s copper operation in Spain at the same time as confirming the first commercial agreement for its Mineral Technology Business.

In what will be Swick’s second largest project, the company has been awarded a five-year contract to provide underground drilling services at Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

Swick has been working with up to five rigs at Olympic Dam since 2017 when an initial trial of its underground mobile diamond drills commenced.

The new contract will see Swick increase its rig volume at site, with the first year’s scope requiring an initial eight rigs, with five to be added to the three currently operating at site. Of the five additional rigs, three are at site already and the remainder will be mobilised from Swick’s existing fleet, according to Swick.

Swick has also been awarded a five-year contract from Minas de Aguas Teñidas SAU (MATSA) at its copper operations in Spain, where two rigs are currently deployed.

These projects, combined with Swick’s existing work in hand, has expanded Swick’s order book to A$363 million ($260 million), it said.

Swick’s Mineral Technology Business, Orexplore, has also been awarded its first infield commercial agreement, the company said.

Under the agreement with St Barbara Ltd, some 1,500 m of core will be scanned per month over a six-month period at the Gwalia mine in Leonora, Western Australia.

Swick will conduct technical assessment over a number of potential benefits of the detailed core analysis and high volume of quality data generated by the GeoCore X10 instrument, it said. The agreement has a value of around A$700,000 over the six-month period.

“Orexplore will be working with world-class subject matter experts to ensure maximum value for the client is derived from the data obtained to develop a compelling justification for ongoing services beyond the initial six-month period,” it said.

Swick expects a formal contract to be signed in the coming weeks and mobilisation of GeoCore X10 instruments housed in a custom-built mobile laboratory to site in September 2020.

The GeoCore X10 analyses the element concentrations and minerals contained in a drill core, as well as providing a visualisation of the rock’s internal structure in 3D. This speeds up the chemical laboratory analysis process, enabling miners to accelerate their own decision making.

Swick Managing Director, Kent Swick, said the company was delighted to be awarded a long-term contract with BHP at Olympic Dam.

“Credit goes to our operational team who have delivered outstanding safety performance, and high quality and productive drilling that enabled Swick to secure this long term, high volume work,” he said.

“In addition, securing a five-year agreement with a large copper miner MATSA, in Spain, adds to our ongoing work with Somincor in Portugal along the historic Iberian Pyrite Belt. Our local workforce in that region is highly skilled and they are to be commended for converting a trial into a long-term contract in Spain.”

He concluded: “In the Mineral Technology Business, it is very exciting that we have taken a significant step forward with the award of Orexplore’s first infield commercial agreement. We look forward to ensuring the value is extracted from this rich 3D data set and I am confident we can add significant long-term value to the Gwalia mine and the wider brownfield market.”

Swick’s Orexplore mineral scanning tech ready for first mine site trial

In announcing the appointment of John Pizimolas as General Manager of the APAC region for Orexplore, Swick Mining Services has revealed that the first mine site trial of its mineral scanning technology is scheduled for the December quarter.

Since launching in May 2018, 18 different customers have used Orexplore in laboratory trials, according to the company.

Pizimolas, meanwhile, has more than 20 years’ experience as a metallurgical engineer in the resources industry, with senior executive expertise in leading mineral analysis across the full mine project life cycle and in new technology start‐ups, Swick said.

Prior to joining Swick, Pizimolas was Vice President, Minerals South East Asia and Pacific for SGS SA and, before then, General Manager Mine Site Services (Global) for ASX‐listed ALS Limited.

Swick Managing Director, Kent Swick, said Pizimolas’ expert industry knowledge will help drive Orexplore’s growth as it targets revenue generation in its second full year since launch.

Pizimolas said: “I strongly believe in the power of digital core tomographic imaging and the need to progress to more real-time information from drilling than has previously been available. The innovative Orexplore technology certainly delivers real commercial value and I am excited to be leading the business in driving its next phase of growth.”

Swick said the Orexplore business is transitioning towards capturing long term, in‐field digital core tomographic imaging opportunities, with the first mine site trial aimed for the December quarter. To support this field trial, Orexplore has recently taken delivery in Australia of three new specification GeoCore X10 machines (pictured) from its Stockholm facility, capable of imaging 6,000 m/mth of core.

The company said: “Successful completion of this trial is expected to enhance market confidence in the technology and drive revenue growth in Orexplore’s second full year since launch.”

Orexplore was developed over a seven-year period in Sweden and provides real-time, non-destructive assay and tomography results using whole of core data that is an improvement on the multiple weeks delay currently used in destructive chemical testing, according to Swick.

GeoCore X10 core scanning machines use patented attenuation and X-ray fluorescence combined measurement techniques to enhance the identification and understanding of key features within the entire core including:

  • Geochemical composition and mineralogy;
  • 3D structures;
  • Texture, fabric and grain size;
  • Density; and
  • Controls on mineralisation.

The scan results are made available to the client for viewing and analysis through Orexplore’s Insight software. This enables interactive 3D manipulation of the tomography data which can lead to accurate definition of geological structures, the ability to define lithological contacts and the true boundaries of mineralisation. It also provides element concentration data for further analysis.

Swick lays groundwork for growth with A$15 million financing

Australia-based drilling and mineral analysis service contractor Swick Mining Services is planning to raise A$15 million ($10.2 million) to provide it with the flexibility to pursue future organic and inorganic growth opportunities for the business, Managing Director Kent Swick says.

The ASX-listed company plans to issue shares to new and existing shareholders to raise this cash and has also provided existing shareholders with an opportunity to raise an additional A$2 million as part of its share purchase plan.

Kent Swick said: “By delivering on our strategy Swick is well placed for growth in financial year 2020, underpinned by our strong order book. We are also seeing additional opportunities to increase our rig fleet utilisation both in Australia and abroad, with a target of 70 FTE (full-time equivalent) underground rigs in work by financial year end, up from an average of 53.6 in FY19.

“This additional funding ensures Swick has the financial flexibility to pursue future organic and inorganic growth opportunities for the business. We are grateful for the strong support received from our existing institutional shareholders and are pleased to welcome several new institutional holders on to our share register.”

In June, Swick said it had recently won drilling contracts with the Barrick Gold and Newmont Goldcorp-owned Nevada Gold Mines JV, Silver Lake Resources and Northern Star Resources.

Swick Mining continues drilling wins at home and abroad

Swick Mining Services is celebrating a hat-trick of contract drilling wins with the Barrick Gold and Newmont Goldcorp-owned Nevada Gold Mines JV, Silver Lake Resources and Northern Star Resources.

The Australia-listed contractor has been awarded a three-year contract extension at the Nevada Gold Mines JV, with the company’s US division extending a relationship that started in 2013. The work with Silver Lake Resources involved being selected as the preferred tenderer, subject to contract execution, to provide underground diamond coring services at its Mount Monger operation, in Western Australia. And, lastly, Northern Star Resources has increased the scope of work for Swick at the Jundee gold mine, also in Western Australia, from nine to 14 full time underground diamond coring rigs.

The awards secure work for 18 rigs (eight existing and 10 additional rigs) and increases Swick’s contracted work in hand to A$353 million ($248 million), the company said.

Swick Managing Director, Kent Swick, said: “We are delighted to be deepening our relationships with existing clients and, in the case of the new work with Silver Lake, returning to a project where we have extensive experience.”

He added: “It is particularly pleasing that our international strategy is yielding significant results, with a third of our total deployed underground diamond drilling rigs now operating outside of Australia. By the end of September, we will have at least 22 rigs operating in our international operations including the USA, Portugal and Spain – all at major mines with Tier One clients.”

In Nevada with the Nevada Gold Mines JV, Swick currently operates eight rigs between the Turquoise Ridge and Cortez Hill gold mines as well as the Goldrush project, it said. As part of the contract extension, Swick will be deploying two additional rigs to these operations.

Swick undertakes underground diamond core drilling and underground RC drilling at the projects, with the contract extension securing work for 10 rigs at fixed pricing for two years, with a rise and fall applicable for the third year. In total, the Nevada Gold Mines JV produced in excess of 4 Moz of gold in 2018, more than double the next largest gold mining complex.

The contract extension, combined with the contract recently awarded to Swick at the Northern Star-owned Pogo gold mine in Alaska, will see Swick take a leading position in the US underground drilling market, it said, adding that the first four underground rigs at Pogo commenced drilling in June.

The Silver Lake Mount Monger contract is expected to be for a period of two years with a provision for a 12-month extension, Swick said. The contract will commence in August, with three rigs undertaking drilling across the Mount Monger site, namely the Daisy Milano, Cock-eyed Bob and Maxwell’s underground mines.

Swick says it worked at the Daisy Milano project for a decade from 2007 before it was awarded to another contractor in 2016. The Mount Monger operations produced 35,172 oz of gold in the March quarter.

At Jundee, meanwhile, Swick says it will steadily increase its fleet and manning from July to October to meet the increased scope. Northern Star is Swick’s largest client – with the Jundee contract Swick’s largest ever project – and will operate this expanded service under the current contract agreement.

Kent Swick said: “Once we reach 14 full time rigs at Jundee, it will represent a record number of rigs that Swick has had at any one mine, and the largest Australian underground diamond drilling program I am aware of since we have been in the underground contracting business for over 20 years.”

Swick Mining boosts profits as it looks to drill deeper at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine

Swick Mining’s strategies of shifting drill rigs on to better performing contracts or new projects and reducing costs has continued to pay off with the underground and surface mineral drilling business posting a more than 100% year-on-year increase in EBITDA in the December quarter.

The company delivered “strong unaudited results” for the three-month period, it said, with the drilling business’ earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 109% to A$9.5 million ($6.8 million). This coincided with the company completing 263,690 m of drilling and the average fleet use coming in at 75% across the quarter.

Drilling business revenue of A$37.7 million was up 8% compared with the same quarter of 2017. Overall group revenue and EBITDA was marginally up on the drilling business numbers as the company’s mineral technology business, Orexplore, registered several commercial scans during the period.

In addition to shifting drill rigs and cutting costs, Swick benefitted from improved short-term rates at two existing underground drilling services contracts in the quarter – for Newmont and its Tanami and Mt Charlotte assets, where 11 rigs are deployed. Swick said: “These rates will run through to March 2019, to allow for a competitive tender process for the long-term contracts to be completed (in which Swick is participating).”

Swick Managing Director, Kent Swick (pictured), said: “The earnings rebound of our drilling business has continued and shows how we can unlock Swick’s potential when we target the right projects for the right clients and ensure we deliver value for money for our clients.

“The improved margins are a mixture of adjusted rates where needed and also from a 6% year-on-year reduction in our operating costs per shift in the underground division by focusing on manning levels, consumables usage, procurement processes and inventory management.”

The Swick MD added that its recently established deep exploration division, DeepEx, continued to move forward during the quarter with preparations underway to deploy two high-torque mobile drills this month at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine. This will further assist the deep underground exploration drilling it is already carrying out at the mine.

This came on top of an update on Orexplore, which in the eight months since launch has secured seven customers and numerous trial programmes with a range of miners, explorers and consultants, Kent Swick said.

He also said the gold spectrometer was undergoing testing at Orexplore’s R&D headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, and that the company expects to have initial feedback on the in-machine prototypes performance during this quarter.

Swick Mining to drill deeper with new exploration division

Buoyed by a strong set of financial results for the September quarter, mineral drilling contractor Swick Mining Services is making plans to launch a deep exploration division.

The company’s Managing Director Kent Swick said the creation of this unit would “further strengthen the company’s market-leading position” in underground diamond coring.

The announcement came at the same time as the company revealed its September quarter financial results, which included revenue of A$36.7 million ($26 million, up 1% year-on-year), EBITDA of A$6.8 million (up 93% year-on-year), total metres drilled of 297,904 m and an average fleet utilisation of 75% across the quarter.

Kent Swick said: “During the quarter, we ordered some specialised deep-hole drilling kits that will be the most powerful rigs available in the Australian market.

“We expect our specialist team, with its purpose‐built equipment, to deliver great outcomes for our clients who in general are requesting more deep exploration holes to be drilled from underground.”

The company added in its results that demand for underground mobile rigs continues to remain high, while its surface RC drilling division had experienced a rebound.