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Author: Greg Fenrick - InfoMine


This review describes the current state of technology of the equipment and technical processes involved in mine drilling. Topics covered include consultants and suppliers of drilling equipment, the types and varieties of drilling equipment available on the market, the cost and technical characteristics of drillers, educational opportunities relative to drilling, jobs and employment involving drilling, and the safety and health requirements for drillers in both ore exploration and open pit mine and underground mine operation and closure.


Drill, blast, load, truck, crush, and process; these operations are at the heart of mining. Here is an overview of drilling from suppliers to technology to equipment. Follow this review with TechnoMine's review on blasting.

If you have more relevant information about drilling than appears in this review, please contact me at gregf@infomine.com and help us spread the word and keep the users of InfoMine informed & up-to-date.


Here are a few recent articles from International Mining that cover the topic of drilling: Exploration Drilling, Sampling and Surveying (Feb 2008), Deposit Drilling (Feb 2009), and Better Blastholes (June 2009).
Or better still, go to the Atlas Copco Technical Publications Repository site for complete technical and equipment information on drilling (note: free registration is required - click on New User Request). Also look at one or more of these manufacturers - they all have equipment and systems that may meet your needs:


Rocket Boomer E2 The Engineering and Mining Journal article starts out by pointing out that "drilling" involves a systems point of view. The system is the bit, the rods, couplers, adapters, drill string components, the drill rig, and the operators. InfoMine's Suppliers section reflects this drilling-systems complexity by including these categories of "drilling" suppliers: drill bits; drill consumables; drilling; drilling contract services; and drilling equipment and supplies. Let us look at each in turn. The dmoz open directory project uses these categories to order the topic of drilling:

  • Downhole
  • Drill Rigs
  • Hammers
  • Rods and Bits
  • Supplies and Accessories


The type of drill bit used in the mining industry is dependent on the type of drilling being done. There are three types of drilling:

Percussion drilling - uses steel rock bits of various designs to break up the rock while drilling. Drill hole diameter can vary greatly, but is commonly about 7 centimetres. The bit is rotated and the hammer action of the drill is transmitted through a string of drill rods, which have a relatively small center hole through which compressed air (in the case of dry ground), or water (in the case of wet ground), is passed.

Reverse circulation - These drills produce rock cuttings at the bit which are blown up the hole by compressed air. The cuttings are separated from the air or water by a cyclone or cyclone-splitter combination.

Diamond drilling - using large machines is the preferred method of delineating mineralization. Diamond drills produce core which ranges from approximately one to two inches in diameter. Drill core is usually split in half by either a core splitter which produces samples of uneven size or by a diamond saw which produces halves of equal size. Half of the core is saved for geological examination and half is bagged and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Drill core is usually analyzed by assay methods.

Rotary Drill Bit Manufacturers

Winner Industry Corporation drill bits

For a list of drill bit manufacturers and distributors, check InfoMine's Mining Suppliers Directory

Related News & Articles:


At least if we can no longer make it, we can supply it efficiently. Westcoast Drilling Supplies says it all: "Westcoast Drilling Supplies' warehouse is fully stocked with everything a drilling contractor requires - we are one-stop shopping. We are experts in loading containers of all sizes, expediting shipments and providing personalized service tailored to the individual customer and the country of import."

Their products include drilling fluid, additives, lubricants, and more. But you may need a supplier closer to home - there is sure to be one if the Nile Petroleum Industrial Company of Egypt is any example. I was visitor no. 31957.


DM-M3 Blasthole Drill Infomine lists over 130 suppliers of drilling contract services. Major Drilling claims to be the world's largest provider of contract drilling services. A quick look at their drilling services and drill catalogue confirms the scope and range of their services. Surely Boart Longyear runs them a close second?

Gregg Drilling sent me their paper brochure and it is almost a relief to see good quality paper instead of ephemeral flickering screens. They focus primarily on the geotechnical and environmental market, and have provided services in this regard to mines in California, Nevada, and Arizona. They can provide you with these services, amongst other things: cone penetrometer testing; pressuremeter testing; vane shear equipment; standard penetration equipment; and ODEX drilling.


J&S Engineering & Maintenance Pty Ltd. defines drill consumables as drillrods, subsavers & associated equipment for blast hole drilling in the mining industry. More specifically, Drillers World Australia Pty Ltd. classify the following key areas as drill consumables:
  • Augers Solid/Hollow/Hand, Bits, Tools, SPT Equipment, U50 Tubes
  • Auger Spiral Bits, 2 prong, Blade 3way/4way, Rockmaster, Rock Rollers
  • Coring Equipment, Core Trays, Core Barrels, Diamond Bits, PCD Bits
  • Directional Equipment, Rods, Swivels, Towing Heads, Wipers, Reamers, Dies
  • DTH Hammers, Bits, Halco, Mission, IR, Grinding Pin Bits, Hammer Oils
  • Top Hammer Bits, Rods, Shanks, Couplings
  • Lubrication Products, Thread Grease, Z50, Moly GOG, Kopa Coat
  • Geotechnical Products, Inclinometer Casing, Level Meters
  • Drill Rigs, Water Swivels, Drill Rods, Pipe Wipers, Subs, Ridgid Tools
  • Marsh Funnel, Mud Cup, Mud Balance, Mud Cleaning, Grouting Systems

InfoMine's Mining Suppliers Directory lists 86 suppliers offering drill consumbles.


Drilling Rig at Sunset in Saskatchewan International Directional Services is a group of highly experienced professionals and a leading supplier of services, rentals and sales of tools for directional drilling services, directional borehole surveying, oriented core and directional project planning consulting for the Mining Industry, GeoTechnical and Environmental fields. IDS offers the most comprehensive surface and underground core orienting service (and rental) available to a wide variety of industries.

A good overview (PowerPoint file) of the technology of directional drilling is in the InfoMine library courtesy of Greg Taylor and John Stringer of International Directional Services.


The InfoMine library has nearly fifty papers on drilling. Most important of course, in my mind, are those on health and safety. But my attention was fixed on the 1968 paper with the innocent title An Econometric Study of Small and Intermediate Diameter Drilling Costs for the United States.

This sounds so innocent and informative, but the Forward tells much more: "A significant part of the cost of conducting a Plowshare project is associated with drilling and preparing the hole needed for the emplacement of the nuclear explosive underground. A number of the proposed applications for nuclear explosions will require the emplacement of explosives to great depths." Later in the report they tell us the boreholes go to 6,000 ft at 90-inch diameters. That is almost shaft sinking.

A better source of current cost data is no doubt CostMine (a division of InfoMine).


My task of surveying drilling is made that much easier by EduMine. The easiest is to go to the EduMine Home page, type the keyword "drilling", and select the course segment that interests you - there are about 50 of them. Need more be said?


Intota, a business-to-business service connecting business, has a good description of a drilling consultant in their definitions of an expert: "supervision of drilling contractors; identification of exploration drilling targets; sample description and preparation for assay; post-drilling remediation of drill sites on private and government owned properties; and preparation of interpretive geologic reports and ore reserve estimates.

InfoMine's Mining Consultants Directory lists about 25 companies offering exploration drilling consulting services. Please also see our Specialists Directory for drillin specialists.

If you don't see your company listed as either an exploration drilling consultant or as a specialist, please take a moment to add your company to our Consultants directory and Specialists directory.

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