Pioneering exploration drill rig steps closer to market

The RoXplorer coiled-tubing (CT) rig for mineral exploration, which was developed over eight years by the Australian Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC), has been licenced to Imdex, a global mining equipment, technology and services (METS) company
Pioneering exploration drill rig steps closer to market Pioneering exploration drill rig steps closer to market Pioneering exploration drill rig steps closer to market Pioneering exploration drill rig steps closer to market Pioneering exploration drill rig steps closer to market

Imdex and Barrick will work together to identify the right commercial model to bring the RoXplorer technology to market

Staff Reporter

PRESS RELEASE: The RoXplorer CT rig brings a revolutionary change to mineral exploration drilling where individual drill rods have been replaced by a continuous steel coil. Drilling and tripping into and out of the hole proceeds without the need to connect and disconnect rods, making drilling safer, faster and cheaper.

The rig is driven by downhole (as opposed to conventional surface) motors and is smaller, has lower fuel consumption and a smaller footprint than equivalent conventional drill rigs. Additional environmental benefits stem from its deployment with a solids removal unit, meaning no sumps are dug and no drilling fluids released to the surface.

A prototype of the rig is also undergoing final preparations for a drilling trial on a Barrick Gold exploration site in Nevada, US.

Derek Loughlin, global business development director at Imdex, said that the company intends to work closely with Barrick Gold on the Nevada trial and in identifying the appropriate commercial model by which the technology will be brought to market.

"The RoXplorer CT rig is a technology that could be disruptive to conventional drilling methods with the promise of significant productivity, safety and environmental performance. Whilst IMDEX does not intend to enter the drill rig manufacturing or drill rig operating businesses, we recognise the valuable role that our technologies could play as part of the overall CT drilling system," he said.

Andy Wurst, chief geoscientist, global project generation at Barrick Gold, said the company was looking forward to deploying the RoXplorer coiled-tubing drilling system in Nevada and witnessing its capability.

"The RoXplorer promises to change the way the industry approaches minerals exploration, and we're excited to put it through its paces, as well as work with Imdex to bring the technology to market," he said.

The Nevada trial will also incorporate Imdex's Lab-at-Rig technology (licenced from DET CRC in 2015), providing real-time geochemistry from the drill cuttings.

DET CRC chairman Tom Whiting said he was delighted with the achievements of the research centre, which officially concluded on June 30, 2018. after eight years of innovation.

"All of DET CRC's major technologies (Wireless Sub, Lab-at-Rig, AutoSonde, AutoShuttle and RoXplorer CT drilling system) have been taken to working prototype and licenced in revenue-generating agreements to our supplier participants, Boart Longyear and Imdex. I couldn't be happier with the final outcomes," he said.

"DET CRC has demonstrated the value of the CRC programme in the mining industry, along with the value of government support, open innovation, and of committed industry participants who persevered with their support through the 2012-2016 downturn in the mining industry."