Drill speed and drill types


How many holes can an NQ-drill do per day and how many meters per day can three rigs manage? These are questions I regularly get from readers impatient with the pace the company in question drills at.

Drill types:

There are a few types of drills used for exploration drilling and all of them require an rotary drill and a metal tube with an core bit in the front made of diamond. The drill bit is lowered down to the surface and rotated against the rock surface. A friction is accomplished and water is used to get the rock dust to the surface so that the drill bit can work freely again. The rotary drill needs a lot of power and the bigger core you need to get, the more power you will need to accomplish. Bigger cores often means shallower drill depths also. Some 300 meters is often mentioned as normal in exploration drilling.

Core diameters:

There are 8 often tube sizes used, where AQ-drilling is the smallest with only 48 mm of outside hole diameters and 27 mm core diameter. This drill type is used for very deep or fast drilling where structure is searched. BQ is the next tube size with 60/36,5 mm is accomplished. This drill tube size is not very common. NQ-drilling is very common with 75,8/47,6 mm is achieved. This tube size is something in the middle, both fast and gives a great amount of material to the surface. GBB used this tube size for phase 1 and 2. There is also HQ and PQ tube sizes which are 96/63,5 and 122,6/85 mm in diameter which requires a lot of power from the drill rig at the surface. A larger core diameter means that the analyzes can be more accurate because of the larger core sample and the “nugget effect” is lower.

Core used for:

When the drilling has finished at the hole, the core is split in two pieces, one is sent to the analyzing labs and one piece is placed in a rack, with number that tells what hole it comes from and what depth. Often the geologist at site mark points of interest on the drill core and photograph the core for further analyzing in the office.

Drill speed:

A normal drill speed for NQ drilling is around 5-10 meters per hour without stop. The drill speed depends on numerous factors, for example rock type, homogeneous rock, wear of the drill bit, flow of water, depth of drilling, terrain and more. An example of drilling in one 24-hour period: 7,5 meters x 24 hours = 187,5 meter/day. To drill 2500 meters you will need the following numbers of days before finishing: 2500 meters/187,5 meters = 13,5 days with no stops for maintenance.


Atlas Copco

This entry was posted in Mining. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Drill speed and drill types

  1. Johnny B says:

    Nice post, but how do RAB or RC drilling compare to diamond drilling in terms of drilling speed?

    • Hello!

      RAB is not often used, because it produces bad core samples, because it hammers and blows the chrushed rock in between the tube and core. RAB has the advantage of beeing able to drill at extreme depths, but can, if water is present, clog the tube. RAB is fast though and cheap. RC-drilling is used when you need to determine grades and need larger core samples (10-30 cm, but must common is 13-20 cm) and is cheaper than diamond drilling (NQ for example), but is slower. The speed when using RC-drill depends on many factors, but I would say half the drill speed as of diamond drilling. When commence of a drill program with RC-drill, you often have several rigs at site, to keep up the pace.

      Best regards // Joakim

      • Johnny B says:

        Thanks for the answer, however I’m still confused 🙂 It took a while to find it again, but I remember having read this small passage from an article about exploration in the Yukon,

        Management has contracted four drill rigs “with the intentions of retaining two of them to work year round on the best two projects.” Bill Sheriff also said, “most of the gold in Nevada and Alaska has been drilled out with RC drilling. We get a huge benefit compared to our competitors who drill core… First off, it is half price per meter or less… Secondly its penetration rate is double that of core… and we have 4 of our 5 projects road accessible… a true rarity in the Yukon… this means our costs are half to start with when compared to a helicopter support program. Bottom line is that we will get 5-6 times as many holes and samples for each dollar of drilling as our competitors.”

        I would assume “drilling core” means diamond drilling, and that “penetration rate” is drilling speed. If that’s true he’s basically saying RC is twice as fast as DD.

        Anyway, thanks!

      • Hello!

        I think that the specific geology at the place of that company can make the difference. Everything that I have read about RC vs diamond is that RC is the slower one, but it is cheaper, that is correct. If RC was both faster and cheaper, everyone would use that 😉

        Best regards // Joakim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s