DrillGeo: Maximum quality, efficiency & sustainability for the Brazilian diamond drilling market

February 16, 2024

by Francisco Sampaio, Director at DrillGeo

Founded in 2000 in Brazil, DrillGeo is a company specializing in the full range of drilling services applied to geological research and geotechnical works.

Both founders of DrillGeo, Mr Gilberto Pedreira, current CEO, and Mr João Paulo Franco, current Vice President, had the dream of building a modern company, with an innovative mindset and integration to the technological advances, they aimed to meet the ever-increasing demands of their customers. Mr Pedreira has been involved in drilling ever since the 80s. He was convinced that he should start the business when he realized that the industry was going through a ‘perfect’ storm. There was a growing demand for services while only a few companies were specializing in core drilling, at the same time the Brazilian legislation was also bound to change. By then, he had drilled more than 1 000 000 m (3 280 840 ft) for companies, such as Doce Gel, Vale do Rio Doce, Icomi, Ferbasa, Mineração Caraíba, UniGeo, CBPM and Nuclebras.

DrillGeo Site


DrillGeo’s trajectory and proven experience reflect the success of its founders.

Since 2000, DrillGeo has drilled a total of 1 500 000 m (4 921 260 ft) in the diameters 4 ½”, 5 ½”, B-size, N-size, H-size, P-size and ZW series, across mining projects and in the wild diversity of the Brazilian geological environments. It is worth highlighting the depths reached – 800 m (2625 ft) in H-size for iron ore and 1583 m (5194 ft) in N-size, both ‘Q’ series, and 125 m (410 ft) in the ZW diameter (194 mm), which is used for metallurgical analyses.

In the last twenty years, DrillGeo has also undergone a revolution in its internal structure and drill rig fleet. Over the past 10 years, the company has invested heavily in modernizing its drill rigs, purchasing 100% hydraulic equipment from Epiroc, manufactured in Sweden and in China. It was certified by Bureau Verittas for Quality processes, through the ISO 9001 Standard, and doubled the size of its headquarters in the state of Bahia. Additional milestones for DrillGeo are:

  • The opening of new branches in the states of Minas Gerais (in the city of Nova Lima) and in the state of Pará (in the city of Canaã dos Carajás), bringing the company closer to its customers and providing better service for the important mineral centers in Brazil. This also helped to attract and begin operations for BHP and Vale, the two largest mining players in the world.
  • DrillGeo started offering RC drilling services.
  • Investing in attracting and training the workforce to guarantee safe operations with DrillGeo’s modern equipment. To accomplish this, essential assumptions were established regarding the period of adjustment, assimilation, and the growth of technicians and operators. This brought forth excellent operational procedure performance, cost reduction and improvement in customer satisfaction.
  • • In 2021, DrillGeo changed its company structure, becoming an S.A. (incorporated, in other words), allowing bigger capital injections, better control of contracts, and more transparency and adaptability to the ESG requirements of the market. In addition, the share capital also brought in new partners – Francisco Sampaio and Antonio Marcio, oil drilling engineers with more than 15 years of experience in various drilling methods, both working at DrillGeo since the beginning. Today, they are both directors.
  • In 2021, DrillGeo changed its company structure, becoming an S.A. (incorporated, in other words), allowing bigger capital injections, better control of contracts, and more transparency and adaptability to the ESG requirements of the market. In addition, the share capital also brought in new partners – Francisco Sampaio and Antonio Marcio, oil drilling engineers with more than 15 years of experience in various drilling methods, both working at DrillGeo since the beginning. Today, they are both directors.

Capabilities and services

DrillGeo has rigs capable of reaching depths of over 2500 m (8202 ft). The main services the company offers are:

  • Core drilling;
  • Reverse Circulation (RC);
  • Drilling in large diameter (ZW) and underground;
  • Guidance of testimonies;
  • Directional drilling;
  • Geophysical profiling;
  • Geotechnical survey;
  • Geological logging;
  • Susceptibility test;
  • Point load test (PLT);
  • Provision of labor for geological activities;
  • Geotechnical instrumentation.

DrillGeo site


The company is currently employing around 400 people directly, operating throughout the national territory. Among them are qualified professionals with more than 30 years of experience in drilling. The technical staff consists of drilling engineers, geologists, drill planners, safety specialists and mining/geology technicians.


DrillGeo has a total of 40 rigs for both surface and underground operations. Among these rigs are Christensen 140C, Boyles C5C, Boyles C6C, Boyles C8C, Explorac 100 and U6. The rigs have remote control functions with advanced systems and maintenance of rock-cutting power independent of the operator’s action, in addition to the low emission of noise and pollutants. To tackle all challenges, 100% of the equipment matches and exceeds Brazilian labor standards.

To maximize its RC operations, the company has recently acquired Epiroc’s Explorac 100 rigs for RC, capable of reaching depths of up to 250 m (820 ft). For diamond drilling operations, DrillGeo is expecting the arrival of six new CS140C rigs with Rod Handling System (RHS) from Sweden. The company also has several rigs for rotary drilling and roto-percussion drilling in RC.

It is not well-known in the Brazilian market, but DrillGeo has launched its own drilling control application. ‘Drillcore’ collects drilling information, daily production records, quality controls and safety data, eliminating the use of paper in the drilling environment and integrating operations in the Society 5.0 era. Any cell phone or tablet with minimal configurations supports the application so that all its customers can have access to the complete information and with data imported into Power BI (data visualization software from Microsoft), facilitating the monitoring of the various KPIs of the work.


DrillGeo was initially established to meet the strong demand for copper and chromium ore drilling, conducting deep boreholes of over 1500 m (4921 ft) for mineral research for various clients. The company also engaged in lateritic nickel operations, utilizing triple tube (HQ3) systems to collect samples for mineral development and geotechnical assays. During this period, it developed effective drilling and recovery methods, significantly increasing its core sample recovery rate during campaigns. The company boasts substantial experience in drilling carbonate zones, renowned for their tendency to exhibit faults and caverns at considerable depths, successfully completing numerous holes for zinc exploration.

Subsequently, DrillGeo provided services for gold mines, where the primary challenges revolved around stringent borehole trajectory control and maximal recovery of deep mineralized zones. DrillGeo devised its proprietary method of passive trajectory control maintenance, employing wedges, followed by the subsequent implementation of directional equipment.

Over the years, the company has gained extensive expertise in iron ore drilling, focusing its operations in the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia, and Pará. In this context, DrillGeo developed its proprietary drilling method in the ZW diameter, with a focus on obtaining samples for geometallurgical testing of iron ore and lateritic nickel, presenting innovative solutions for its clients’ research plans.

Moreover, in its iron ore experience, DrillGeo has concurrently managed multiple projects for this valuable metal, utilizing approximately eleven drilling rigs in a single project, even conducting drilling in jaspilite and ‘serra azul’ rock formations within the Iron Quadrangle region. The company has also executed projects involving multiple rigs and consecutive boreholes exceeding 500 m (1640 ft) in H-size per hole. In 2015, DrillGeo had operations in the remote regions of Brazil in proximity to Bolivia drilling for phosphate.

Throughout its nearly two decades of history, DrillGeo has proven to be a resilient company with the ability to evolve and renew. It has been widely recognized for the quality of its services, attested by ongoing customer satisfaction surveys and deadlines consistently met, with a focus on workplace safety and environmental preservation.

DrillGeo is also affiliated with important industry associations, such as Ibram – the Brazilian Mining Institute, a national private non-profit organization that represents companies and institutions operating in the mineral sector – and Adimb, the Agency for Development and Innovation of the Brazilian Mineral Sector, established in 1996 as a private non-profit entity with administrative, technical, and financial autonomy. It is an association of companies and institutions in the mineral sector, with the mission of promoting technical-scientific development and the training of human resources for the Brazilian mineral industry. DrillGeo recognizes the importance of organizing the mineral sector to address issues related to better representation, production, and socio-environmental interaction within the industry.

Currently, DrillGeo provides services to clients such as Vale, OZ (BHP), Nexa Resources, Ero Copper, Ferbasa, Bahia Mineração, Horizonte Minerals, Valore Metals Corp, Mineração Caraíba S.A, among others.

Future goals

DrillGeo prepares for the future. It has assisted and distance drilling activities in process and under development and has acquired rigs that have a coupling of the rod handler system coming from the factory. One of the company’s main objectives is to continue the certification in the 45000 standard (Health and Safety Management), standing out in the sector and being increasingly involved in responding to the growing demands for safety, risk reduction and continuous improvement of working conditions that the market and society demand. Thinking about the qualification of the company, its managers have the 18000 certification in mind, which will expand its activities and certify its entire management system for drilling activities, geological logging and sampling and technological control.

One of the reasons that led its managers to transform DrillGeo into an S.A is the change in the variable remuneration plan for employees. Aiming to increase engagement, strengthen the development and loyalty of employees, DrillGeo offers stock options for long-time employees, or those with important accomplishments, and for its customers.

DrillGeo is also attracting women into the industry by actively participating in the Women in Mining program and offering operator training. One of their main goals is to train 25 women by 2026.

For more information visit: drillgeo.com.br or contact contato@drillgeo.com.br and +55 (71) 9 9919-6565