Drilling in Kazakhstan: Aurora Quest Services and Nova Drilling complete a successful core drilling project in the Pavlodar region

July 8, 2022

by Doskhan Zhumakhanov, Project Manager at Aurora Minerals Group LLP 

In one month (February – March 2022), the drilling Division of Aurora Minerals Group (Aurora Quest Services, together with Nova Drilling) completed a core drilling project for geotechnical and hydrogeological studies without a single LTI and in accordance with the quality requirements. The work was performed in the Pavlodar region in the Bozshakol copper deposit, located in northern Kazakhstan. The climate there is temperate, sharply continental with long, harsh winters with stable snow cover (from late October to early April) and hot summers with little precipitation. The deposit is developed by KAZ Minerals PLC and is the largest mining project in the former Soviet Union, both in terms of production volume and scale. Mineral resources of the deposit are estimated at 1.17 billion tonnes of ore at an average copper grade of 0.36%. The deposit also contains valuable by-products in the form of gold and molybdenum. 

Aurora drill site

The project was completed successfully by using two Epiroc Boyles C6 drill rigs on insulated trailers. The rigs have the capacity to drill P-size – 770 m (2526 ft), H-size – 1100 m (3610 ft), N-size – 1391 m (4564 ft) at sea level. 

We sent our team of 14 people for two shifts (day/night) and for the two rigs to the site – one site manager, four drillers and eight helpers. We also sent an Australian foreman with international experience in packer surveys and installation of piezometers. 

Total drilling volume was 2000 m (6562 ft). In 31 days of operation, our crew drilled six holes with depths ranging from 320 m (1050 ft) to 480 m (1575 ft). The average penetration was 20 m (66 ft) per shift with zero downhole problems. 

Drilling was performed with a triple tube, the core was oriented with REFLEX ACT III™ core orientation tools, and intermediate dip and azimuth surveys were taken with a REFLEX EZ-TRAC™ inclinometer. Upon completion of drilling, the borehole column was checked with a REFLEX GYRO SPRINT-IQ™ gyroscopic inclinometer. In addition, packer testing was performed prior to the installation of piezometers. Photo documentation and core description were successfully performed by the geotechnical team supplied by Aurora Minerals Group as per client specification. 

During the drilling process, anti-vibration lubricants and environmentally friendly polymers were used to condense the drilling mud. Also, water-resistant grease was employed to lubricate the core tube bearing assembly. The threaded joints were lubricated with graphite grease to prevent contamination of the core material. 

In preparing drilling sites, a safe work area was created for personnel with minimal environmental impact. The drilling site was fenced with a tight barrier fence to prevent intrusion by unauthorized/inducted persons and wild and domestic animals common in the area. 

A banner with company information, managers’ contact phone numbers, and a list of necessary personal protective equipment for access to the site was installed in front of the site entrance. 

The drill site in the Bozshakol copper deposit
The drill site in the Bozshakol copper deposit

Inside the site, storage areas for fuel and lubricants, bunded pallets were used. Waste management was performed at the drill pad by separation of waste into different containers, depending on the type of waste product. A smoking area was set out of the fenced drill pad for health and safety reasons with a container for cigarette butts and a fire extinguisher. Drilling rigs and vehicles were equipped with oil spill response kits (OSR). 

In addition to the above-mentioned, the accommodation trailer was equipped with all conditions for eating, warming up, resting and sheltering the personnel in case of possible emergency situations. 

After the wells were completed, all sump water and cuttings were sucked from the sumps using Aurora Minerals Group specialized vacuum trucks and taken to a dedicated reclamation area supplied by the client. After clearing the site, excavation work was carried out to return the drilling area to its previous state. This is done by backfilling sumps and drains. Then the drilling area was covered with topsoil that had been put aside into a separate area whilst constructing the sumps during drilling site preparation. 

About the company 

Aurora Minerals Group is a service exploration company that provides high-performance and innovative services in the mining industry in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. 

Aurora’s service companies offer a full range of exploration work, including support services for obtaining subsoil use rights, geophysical and drilling operations, as well as exploration support reserves estimation. 

Aurora Quest Service (AQS) is a new-format drilling company, a joint venture between Aurora Minerals Group and Quest Exploration Drilling (Australia). 

AQS is based on the world’s best practices, experience and knowledge of drilling in any surface conditions, including mountainous terrain by helicopter, with high standards of safety, health and environmental protection. 

The company closely cooperates with the countries of Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan (10 rigs), Kyrgyzstan (5 rigs) and Uzbekistan (1 RC rig). The total number of employees is over 500. 

For more information visit: www.aurora.kz 

Read Issue 20 here: 

Issue 20 / 2022