LKAB is using a variation of conventional prospecting drilling to search for new orebodies and secure reserves for the future.
Prospecting drilling will allow the iron ore miner to gain more detailed knowledge of the geometry and geochemistry of mineralisation, but this process can often be expensive in both man hours and euros.
That is why this year the company started trials with crooked, or deviated, bore holes in prospect drilling.
Karin Lindgren (pictured), geologist at LKAB, explains: “We can already see several advantages with crooked holes. Overall, the number of drilling metres is reduced, and we do not have to drive drifts at the outer edges of the orebody to the same extent and can reach the intended drilling locations with greater precision.”
She continued: “With crooked drilling, we can reach greater depth and access the ore from different angles. The technique can be used to reach the outer boundaries of the orebody and gain a better understanding of its geometry.”
Today, two drill rigs are being used and a third will soon be operational at the company’s operations, LKAB said. The company is testing the crooked-hole technique to first learn, and then evaluate, the method, it said.
Anders Edlert, Project Manager for Prospecting Drilling at LKAB, said: “We want to push the boundaries and find out what can be done with this technology in this type of rock and at what cost.”
He does admit drilling deviated holes comes with more friction, so drilling takes longer and currently costs nearly three times as much as conventional drilling.
“We, therefore, have to press the costs and compare them against the time and resources that are needed for driving new drifts for conventional drilling,” he concluded.