Drill rig geologists can expect their roles to change from being data collectors to being data interpreters as the quality of drilling data continues to improve.
IMDEX head of product management Michelle Carey told a session of the Future of Mining Sydney 2018 that the company was working on sensors that could deliver better quality assurance on their data. "We need to build a chain of custody for the data,"
Carey said. "The Internet of Things is making this easier and quicker."
Carey said the technologies were improving to the point that drillers could even starting doing some simple quality assurance work. "If we can get drillers to use a north seeking gyro, there's no end to the tools we can get them to use," she said.
"We need service providers to collaborate so we get the full benefits."
Some of the ways of getting better survey data include measurements showing the work of the tool against the target. "Then we use the metadata off the tool to help the geologists decide if their data is any good or not,"
Carey said. "Looking forward we have logging while drilling. That's a well-developed concept in the oil and gas industry."
However, top of hole assaying tools such as the Lab at Rig technology developed by the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre and being commercialised by Imdex, will more likely be the first cab off that particular rank.
Having better drilling positional data such as position of the hole, depth of the hole and orientation of the hole can also be a big cost saving. "In the Pilbara they've discovered that if they can know when to stop the hole they can stop overdrilling and that can be a 5% productivity improvement,"
Drill operability is another area the industry is keen to focus on. "It's a key part of how we allow the data this information to be collected,"
While mineral drilling has a long way to go to catch up with the oil and gas world, it is making strides down the path. "We're increasingly seeing the trend of people working to put petrophysical detectors in the hands of drillers,"
Carey said. "We're seeing an increasing desire for data. We're taking more and more data from each of the sensors.
"All this data is all very well, but what on earth do we do with it?
"Then there's increasing desire to see the data in real time."
Of course, a lot of this has already been done by the oil and gas industry so a lot of the work is aimed at converting those tools to suit mineral drilling. "What the mineral industry needs is that the sensors be smaller and cheaper."
First published by Australia's Mining Monthly, Noel Dyson 17 May 2018.