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Filtering by Category: Vol 1

Master Drilling strives to keep the environment safe

Drill Safe

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By W.C. Olivier and F.J.N. Stassen

Since May 2014 Master Drilling has employed a fully dedicated rehabilitation crew at one of its surface exploration drill sites in the Northern Cape in order to keep up with the rapid drill rate on site.

The appointment of geologists and geohydrologists in 2013 as part of the Master Drilling team not only created a focus on producing a quality service through the delivery of core and other drill samples of the highest quality but also on delivering a rehabilitated drills site and boreholes which are left with water quality of the highest possible standards. General workers have been trained as field technicians to rehabilitate drilling sites and since 2015 have been utilizing water bailers to remove the bulk of pollutants produced during drilling after which hydrocarbon absorbing socks are emplaced in the boreholes to remove any last trace amounts of hydrocarbon pollutants.

Photographic reporting and measuring of water samples using an interface probe are employed to ensure borehole water quality prior to drilling and prevent any traces of hydrocarbons remaining in any boreholes.

Since the implementation of this initiative drilling crews have become more aware of the importance of protecting groundwater and improved borehole water qualities are a testament to the fact that drilling crews now take more care during drilling operations not to pollute valuable groundwater resources.

Since 2013 Master Drilling has rehabilitated more than a 1000 boreholes on this site and are currently investigation the use of more sophisticated on site analytical tools to measure the water quality to more accurate levels and improve the water quality even further.

Master Drilling’s management would like to congratulate the employees of this site for the implementation and maintaining of this critical environmental protection effort. This shows that Master Drilling is truly committed towards and supports environmentally friendly mining.

AMC’s SRU limits spill risks in protected area in Canada (Case Study)

Drill Safe

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A uranium drilling project, located in Canada’s Patterson Lake South, presented a number of unique environmental and technical challenges for the resource company. AMC’s SRU was implemented to assist operations and reduce costs on site. 

AMC SRU achieved: 

  • fluid Transport Savings up to US$120,000/month
  • enhanced operational efficiency and productivity
  • reduced environmental footprint and risk of contamination
  • mud consumption reduced by 65-90%
  • enabled cleaner and safer operations

Setting the drill site safety standard

Drill Safe

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This article was published in the July/August 2017 edition of GeoDrilling International.


Colin Rice, of Colin Rice Exploration & Training, describes a case study of drill site safety management in South Africa

Drill site safety has assumed an increasingly important role in South African exploration projects over the past eight years, and much of the increased focus on safety has been due to very onerous legislation that regulates operations. In South Africa, an exploration borehole is deemed to be a ‘mine’, and so all exploration drilling activities are regulated by the Mine Health and Safety Act. As the name suggests, the act was written to regulate mining activities and not drilling operations – in fact, the word ‘drilling’ appears only once. Nonetheless, all exploration activities must fully comply, and all persons involved in any exploration activity are subject to the very arduous requirements and the significant penalties that are prescribed in the act. Because there is no reference to drilling operations, mining companies have had to interpret the requirements of the act and then apply them to their respective exploration operations. Understandably, different mining companies interpret the requirements differently, and so several interpretations exist, and it is not uncommon that equipment deemed to be compliant at one mine is deemed to be non-compliant at another. This has caused confusion between contractors and their customers.


Approximately six years ago, Colin Rice Exploration & Training was approached by a major mining company to conduct a safety audit on a 33-rig exploration drilling project. It involved rotary-percussion drilling, and both wireline and large-diameter conventional core drilling. Three contractors were awarded work on the project, and so the auditing project involved many different types of equipment operated by crews with a wide range of competencies. Most significantly, there were three companies with varying levels of understanding of the fundamentals of safety management and very different attitudes to drill-site safety. The contractor had very little idea of its legal responsibilities or of the consequences if it fell foul of the law. Previous safety audits had been done by safety officers from the mine, and often the officer reported issues that were frivolous, while serious safety issues were not identified. It was clear that the quality of the audit was directly related to the level of drilling experience of the safety officer, and so it was common that different officers would inspect the same operation and arrive at different findings. Consequently, conflicts grew more frequent – the contractor was viewed as ‘the problem’, and safety personnel appeared to be on a crusade to stop the contractor from working for whatever reason they could find. It was clear that the safety management system had to become more consistent and comprehensive, and so a project was started to develop a set of drill site safety standards that would cover all aspects of a drilling operation. From these standards, a set of standardised safety inspection checklists would be developed that would be used by both the mine personnel and the contractor to conduct inspections. The first step was the development of a drill-site safety standard, it had to:

  • interpret and include all legal requirements;
  • include all ‘best practice’ in cases where the legal requirement was insufficient;
  • include requirements for all drilling methods and techniques;
  • be easily understandable; and,
  • eliminate or reduce the level of subjectivity required in doing a safety inspection.

The development of the standard went through many iterations before it was considered complete, but at every stage it was shared with the contractors and the checklists were used in the safety inspection process. Since the contractor was included in the process, it took ownership and the development of the highest-quality standards became easy. In addition, because the contractor and safety officer used the same checklists to do their safety inspections, there were no surprises. 


Drill site safety has four components, so the standards are developed in four sections:

  • Equipment: requirements for the drill rig, compressor, booster, water pump, mud-mixing facility, rod trucks and support trucks, welding machines, diesel and water bowsers.
  • Environment: general requirements while mobilising, drilling and during rehabilitation.
  • Personnel: requirements for crew and supervisor training and competence assessment.
  • Procedures: requirements for all routine and non-routine operations. 

The inspection checklist asks a simple question directly related to each of the requirements in the standards document – the safety inspector merely has to tick a box: yes, no or not checked. The way in which the questions are framed eliminates subjectivity, and because every aspect of the operation is included in the checklist, the inspection is comprehensive. 

Three separate checklists are used at different stages of the drilling operation. A pre-deployment inspection is done by a competent inspector, preferably at the contractor’s workshop, before the equipment leaves for site. In this way, any defects can be remedied in the workshop by qualified staff rather than at the mine. Once the drill and all ancillary equipment is on-site, set-up and ready, a pre-operation inspection is done. This will check issues that could not be inspected at the workshop; barricading, sump layout, lifting tackle and rod racking, for example, will all be checked. If all is in order, the inspector will authorise the contractor to start drilling. A periodic checklist is used on a weekly or biweekly basis and focuses on checking aspects of equipment that require regular maintenance and repair such as the core barrel, overshots, hoist cables, chuck jaws, quill rods, rotation-head guides, etc. This inspection also checks and verifies operating procedures. Initially the contractors pushed against the implementation of a safety standard. However, it did not take long for them to recognise that the process had many advantages. Firstly, it leveled the playing field – all contractors had to conform to the standard, and so pricing of contracts was much more comparable than was previously the case. Contractors also began to realise that improved levels of safety did not hinder productivity. Probably the greatest improvement was in the relationship between the contractor and the mining company; the contractor and the mine knew exactly what the requirements were and so there were no surprises when a safety inspection was done. Consequently, the contractor became a part of the solution to the problem.

Master Drilling achieves impressive safety milestones

Drill Safe

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By W.C. Olivier and T.C.P. Booysen

Master Drilling continues to achieve impressive safety figures at four of its exploration drilling sites raking up an impressive 1212 injury free days between two of its sites and 2729 Loss Time Injury Free (LTI) days between another two operations at the end of September 2017.

Master Drilling has been conducting underground drilling near Carletonville, North-West province since August 2015, re-opening and drilling new drainage holes for its client between various underground mining levels. Since starting this contract Master Drilling has not had 1 injury to date on this site. The operation thus achieved 780 injury free days at the end of September 2017.

In July 2016 Master Drilling commenced surface exploration drilling near Rustenburg. Core drilling operations consists of four surface drill rigs running on a 24hr shift targeting the Merensky Reef and UG2 at depths well over 1000m. This site recently achieved a year without any injuries since the project commenced in 2016. This Rustenburg operations continuous its great safety performance and achieved a total of 432 safe days at the end of September 2017.

Master Drilling’s exploration division achieved 1157 LTI free days at one of its surface exploration and grade control drilling projects in the Northern Cape at the end of September 2017.  The site has been operational since March 2013 and at its peak was operating more than 20 drilling rigs and employed more than 200 persons. Currently the site has 17 operational drill rigs and has achieved a Loss Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTFIR) of zero for the past two years much lower than the company’s LTIFR target of three.

Since January 2013 Master Drilling has been conducting underground coal exploration drilling near Bethal, Mpumalanga.  The site achieved an extremely impressive safety milestone with 4 years LTI free in June 2017 and are currently standing on 1572 LTI free days.

Master Drilling’s safety management team would like to congratulate these sites on their excellent safety performance thus far for 2017. These safety achievements are a testament to the effective safety management systems, continuous improvement, measuring and monitoring of any non-compliances to health, safety and legal requirements and are a reflection of a good health and safety culture within the company.

Mining operation achieves impressive safety record

Drill Safe


Two underground diamond drilling sites, both part of mining industry leader ROSOND (Pty) Ltd, have achieved impressive safety records of five years of “zero harm”.

Amandelbult Dishaba Underground Diamond Drilling, near Thabazimbi in the Limpopo province, achieved this milestone at the end of last year, while Evander Underground Diamond Drilling in Mpumalanga celebrated its accident-free record on 12 February.

Other ROSOND operations that have achieved notable safety successes in lost time injury (LTI) are the Rasimone South (5 years LTI on 5 December 2016), Kloof (5 years LTI on 19 December 2016), and the Amandelbult Tumela (5 years LTI on 28 February) sites.

Another three sites – Tau Tona, Amandelbult Dishaba, and Impala 4 – have experienced zero harm for 360 days.

Zero harm is defined as a situation where no injuries, not even minor ones, occur, while lost time injury (LTI) means that work time was lost due to an injury.

ROSOND, established over 50 years ago as RODIO/ROSOND, is active in underground mining development and exploration drilling, cementation works and pre-cementation of shafts as well as grout pack support systems.

Ricardo Ribeiro, Operations Director for ROSOND, says that underground diamond drilling has many hazards and the possibility for a serious accident is high.

“Activities require a great deal of manual handling and working conditions are physically demanding,” he says.

ROSOND has a policy of zero harm, and the safety of its employees is its first priority.

“We therefore scrutinise every possible hazard and do whatever is necessary to control and, if possible, eliminate the risks.”

Ribeiro attributes the drilling team’s success to several factors, including focusing on the top hazards and implementing various safety devices for the protection of employees.

The company has also gradually created a culture of safety through quarterly safety drives that remind employees of fundamentals and reinforce non-negotiables.

“Training programmes, including annual and refresher training, play a major role. Training concentrates on the safe operating procedures through theoretical and practical sessions facilitated by qualified trainers and assessors.”

Ribeiro adds that another driving force is objectives and targets.

“These are driven by a safety incentive scheme which rewards the teams with a safety bonus. Our partnership with our clients plays a big role through their safety programmes and standards.”

Supervisory staff also contribute by motivating drill teams.

Ribeiro concludes: “But it’s the drilling teams who are the heroes who make this possible. Without them, we do not have a business, and it is our responsibility to look after them and ensure they go home safely at the end of each day.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement and look forward to the next five years because we know that ‘zero harm’ is possible.”

ROSOND’s drilling includes development drilling, short hole (0-200m) and long hole (0-1000m) core drilling. Grouting comprises cover grouting, water and gas control and other specialised grouting works. ROSOND operates underground with several drilling machines and high-pressure cementation pumps and mixing equipment.

An important activity of ROSOND is the installation of grout packs – support systems that comprise the installation of automatic surface batching plants as well as underground relay stations. ROSOND operates several high pressure cementation pumps on surface and underground.