Swick Mining’s latest market update has indicated its postponed demerger of Orexplore should now go ahead by the end of the year, allowing it to concentrate on the development of new underground drilling technologies including battery-electric diamond drill rigs and remote control drilling.
In a release issued today, Swick said it was recommencing the demerger process for Orexplore with the appointment of Brett Giroud as Managing Director of the Mineral Technology business. Giroud, who joined Swick in May as General Manager, has been reviewing Orexplore’s technology and its future potential and will take on his new role as of July 1.
Back in February, Swick Mining Services said it as pushing back the delivery of Orexplore’s first in-field commercial agreement for its core scanning technology with St Barbara Ltd at the Gwalia mine in Leonora, Western Australia, following discussions with the gold miner, deferring the contract into the 2022 financial year (from July 1, 2021). This decision saw the ASX-listed company also push back the demerger process.
In the meantime, Swick, which reported unaudited financial year 2021 (to June 30, 2021) expected results of A$153-156 million ($115-117 million) of revenue and A$29-31 million of EBITDA, has established a Future of Drilling department. This newly established department includes its Gen3 E-Rigs and Remote Control Drilling (RCD) innovations.
These Gen3 E-Rigs have the capacity to reduce the power consumption per metre drilled by around 50%, leading to overall lower carbon footprint, Swick said. The underground diamond drilling rigs remove all diesel power and a large portion of the hydraulic components currently on the “Swick GenII drill rig”.
“The Gen3 E-Rig will have a large battery capacity allowing for electric tramming and will also utilise the latest in DC electric motor technology to power the drilling components,” the company said.
A research and development drill rig fitted with an electric drill head is nearing readiness for field testing and a prototype rig is expected to be test drilling at a Western Australian client’s operation within the next three months, the company said. A fully proven Gen3 E-Rig is expected to be available for commencing service by mid 2022.
Its RCD system allows drillers to perform automated drilling through video-linked controls from surface effectively and safely, with an additional four non-productive hours a day converted to drilling time, Swick claims.
The RCD system consists of three major components – automated drilling, high speed communications to surface and semi-automated robotic handling of tubes and rods. “Swick has developed an advanced automation capability and is working with specialist consultants on the communications and robotics to establish the final system,” it said.
While the company is talking up its Gen3 E-rigs, its GenII mobile drill rigs – offering the smallest footprint, but highest power on the mobile drill market, Swick says – have recently reached a milestone, with units built and sold to clients in Canada and Tanzania.
“This new division has enabled Swick to participate in significant mining markets and regions where it does not have a presence operationally,” Swick said of the Swick Engineering business which the rigs come under. “Rig sales in financial year 2022 of eight to 12 rigs are targeted and, with a growing global demand for high-quality mobile underground drill rigs, Swick is well placed to service this market.”
This demand will be served by an expanded engineering facility in South Guilford, the company said.