Tag Archives: Nick Payne

Making the most of cloud-connected drilling tech during COVID-19

Drilling contractors and resource companies impacted by COVID-19 restrictions can continue to operate by using cloud-connected sensors that deliver and analyse critical data, according to IMDEX.

Despite restrictions disrupting travel and work, IMDEX says key staff can still make time-critical decisions backed by accurate data delivered in real-time.

IMDEX says most of its clients have indicated they intend to keep operating while working within government-imposed restrictions in each region globally, and with the main priority of keeping their workers safe.

“People are still trying to work,” IMDEX Structural-IQ Global Product Manager, Nick Payne, said. “We are working with all our clients to find solutions to keep them operating and safe in these difficult circumstances.”

Existing IMDEX clients using a range of instruments already have access to the IMDEXHUB-IQ™, which the company says is a secure, cloud-based portal for validating field data transmitted from the drill rig.

IMDEXHUB-IQ Global Product Manager, Tara Bennett-Connell, said this was the perfect time to access, review and take time to analyse data, using IMDEXHUB-IQ.

It is ideal for applications across the exploration life cycle, providing efficient drill hole and sample data management, from daily reporting and QA requirements to structural logging, survey, and geochemical analysis, according to the company.

While IMDEX HUB-IQ was available free to clients already using IMDEX tools, some companies were still opting to use tools where data was being transferred via email and USBs, according to Bennett-Connell.

“More secure, efficient and reliable methods are available, and when you can’t get access to the data through those old methods, it’s time to change,” she said.

IMDEX clients were assured of data security, it said, with IMDEX HUB-IQ having been certified against the rigorous standards of ISO/IEC 27001:2013, an international information security standard recognised in 161 countries.

Other IMDEX technologies that can keep clients working from home include geochemistry and structural geology analytics instrument IMDEX ioGAS™. This is an exploratory data analysis software application that enables users to perform exploratory data analysis, machine learning and predictive analytics, according to the company.

The software can be used in conjunction with REFLEX IQ-Logger™ and IMDEX MUD AID™, IMDEX says.

Payne said now was the right time to consolidate and verify structural data collected by the Reflex IQ-Logger and available in the IMDEXHUB-IQ, and conduct a rigorous structural assessment using IMDEX ioGAS, all of which can be done while working from home.

“Drill programs can be re-assessed and modified, with the new plan available in the IMDEXHUB-IQ for when drilling resumes,” IMDEX said.

Payne said the critical difference for clients using IMDEX ioGAS was that licences could be altered to allow operators to use it on PCs.

“More than half of the people who have IMDEX ioGAS have a server-based licence,” Payne said. “If you cannot access your server, we can change the licence to your PC, and you can keep working.”

It is not just geological data delivery and interpretation that IMDEX solutions can provide for remote scenarios, the company says. IMDEX MUD AID is a remotely monitored, automated in-field diagnosis unit which enables remote assessment of drilling fluids, negating the need for a mud engineer on-site, according to the company.

IMDEX urges miners to embrace new drilling tech

As the mining industry goes deeper in search of new deposits, IMDEX is encouraging companies to embrace new drilling technology to allow them to test more targets, decrease the time it takes to define a resource and improve exploration activity.

IMDEX Global Product Manager, Nick Payne, says more money than ever is being spent on drilling programs without achieving better outcomes.

Speaking at the annual Xploration Technology Symposium in Vancouver, Canada, in January, Payne said more time was being spent to drill less and to find less.

“It is taking us longer to complete drill programs as holes get deeper and by extension taking us longer to evaluate a discovery,” he said in his address.

“We are now drilling deeper than ever before; we are looking for deposits that are 500-1,000 m deep because we have found the shallow deposits.”

Payne said that, in the past 12 years, the cost of drilling had increased without an increase in the metres drilled.

Several factors were responsible, including greater drilling rig safety standards; greater environmental and cultural concerns and limited access to land; increased cost of permits; more requirements for verifying data; and a greater emphasis internally among mining companies for QA/QC standards and data verification.

“But overall, the one aspect that hasn’t improved since 1958 is that there has been very little technological innovation to improve the amount of metres you can actually drill in your drilling time,” Payne said.

“Wireline drilling was introduced in 1958. By the late 1980s, after the introduction of impregnated diamond bits, drill programs averaged about 30 m per shift now they are still about 30 m/shift globally. So, we have now looked at how we can drill more in the time we have available.”

The issues around exploration costs and technology were raised at a recent WA Mining Club panel discussion.

Pilbara Minerals, Perseus Mining, and IMDEX Non-Executive Director, Sally-Anne Layman, said that, “for explorers, the days of the equity markets writing big cheques for blank exploration programs are probably not going to come back any time soon”.

Panellist Liam Twigger, Managing Director at PCF Capital, said that “in the 1990s, for every dollar you spent on exploration, you would normally find something”.

“Now things have gone below surface and we were still, until recently, using the old techniques. If you want to get money into exploration you have to change the value proposition,” he said.

“There is high risk capital out there, you just have to show them that when they put a dollar in it’s not going to drop to 10 cents inside the first six months.”

IMDEX’s aim is to drive change through research and development that delivers innovations allowing drilling contractors and mining companies to test more targets, decrease the time it takes to define a resource and improve exploration activity.

It has developed IMDEX COREVIBE™, IMDEX MAGHAMMER™ and IMDEX XTRACTA™ technologies to optimise the drilling process by increasing drilling speeds, time spent drilling and reducing overall drilling costs.

IMDEX COREVIBE is an energy pulse-assisted drilling method, which harnesses water that is being pumped down the drill rod.

“It is an attachment to the top of your core barrel which creates a vibration in the core barrel and into the drill bit, delivering a micro-hammering effect and this gives about a 30% increase in productivity in drilling,” Payne said.

“It increases the penetration rate of your drilling and helps working core blockages through where normally you would have to stop and pull the rod; the vibration helps clear the core blockage.”

IMDEX XTRACTA is a retractable core barrel that allows drillers to inspect and/or change the drill bit each time the core is retrieved, according to IMDEX.

“This means there is a production gain because you never have to pull rods to change the bit. It reduces the risk of a hole collapsing and gives the driller chance to be a bit more aggressive and to experiment with drill bit types,” Payne said.

IMDEX MAGHAMMER uses a new hybrid drilling technique, which combines rotary diamond drilling with fluid driven percussive drilling to achieve higher penetration rates compared to conventional coring, according to the company.

IMDEX XTRACTA will be available in the market by the end of 2020 and IMDEX COREVIBE by mid-2020. Field trials are continuing with IMDEX MAGHAMMER.

IMDEX symposium sets the exploration scene for AME Roundup

IMDEX recently held its fifth annual Xploration Technology Symposium in Vancouver, Canada, in which virtual reality, machine learning and new exploration technologies all received significant airtime.

The event, held on January 17, came ahead of AME’s annual Mineral Exploration Roundup, also held in Vancouver, on January 20-23. It saw 16 speakers and 160 attendees turn up.

IMDEX, which has a suite of drilling optimisation products to improve the process of identifying and extracting mineral resources globally, said the event covered multi-element data, artificial intelligence for mineral exploration and exploration instrumentation, along with a series of case studies. The focus was on improving and driving innovation in the mining industry and providing a platform to share big ideas, new technologies and new processes in exploration.

International consulting practice, SRK, had Principal Structural Geologist, Wayne Barnett, present on virtual-mixed reality, where he discussed augmented visual powers to automatically measure surface orientations and how this technology is changing best practices in data collection and analysis, IMDEX said.

Professor Bern Klein, of the University of British Columbia, meanwhile, discussed industry research to optimise value and ensure worker safety in deep underground mass mining operations.

The use of machine learning for mineral exploration in greenfield areas was discussed by GoldSpot Discoveries Corp Chief Operating Officer, Vincent Dube-Bourgeois, during the session on artificial intelligence.

Among the exploration case studies was one from Chris Gallagher, Rogue Geoscience President, a company that has been instrumental in developing several exploration technologies and geological data management systems used in the industry today, according to IMDEX.

And, Nick Payne, Global Product Manager Structural Geology at IMDEX, in his presentation ‘A New Wave of Drilling Optimisation’, discussed new technologies IMDEX COREVIBE and IMDEX XTRACTA – which, he says, offer substantial improvements in safety and productivity.