Energold Drilling Corp.: Experts in Man-Portable Drilling Operations 

March 22, 2018

 by Nick Holroyde, Sales & Marketing Co-ordinator, Energold Group & Richard Thomas, MD Energold Group EMEA 

Energold Series rig drilling frozen marshland in Finland

 Energold is a diversified, global, drilling solutions provider, that services the mining, geotechnical, water and energy sectors worldwide. Listed on the Toronto stock exchange under the ticker TSX-V: EGD, Energold has been providing a comprehensive range of drilling services for over 20 years in 24 countries. The Europe-Middle East-Africa Division is based in the UK. The company has operations in more than 10 African countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Guinea and Djibouti, and, most recently, Rwanda, where Energold has been awarded a contract for a project. Energold also has exploration drilling operations in many South American countries, including Mexico, Peru, Panama, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. 

 Niche services for difficult sites 

While offering a diverse range of drilling services, Energold’s niche service to the exploration market is the provision of man-portable rigs suited to drilling programs in remote and difficult-to-access locations that have limited infrastructure. Created to meet the demands of such environments, Energold’s modular Series rigs have also been designed specifically to reduce the environmental impact of their drilling operations, while compromising as little as possible on depth capability or performance. The ability to deliver these projects in a genuinely low impact manner means overall costs for road building, local compensation or any reinstatement are kept to a minimum.  

 Nurturing our client relationships 

Energold carries out work for a significant number of Junior, Intermediate and Major companies.  Côte d’Ivoire is its largest market, where it presently has 11 drilling rigs. The company’s philosophy is to build long-standing relationships with as many clients as possible; some clients have been working with Energold over many years. For example, the company flew in a portable drilling rig for a client in Senegal in 2011, which was for a new gold prospect that Energold carried out the initial exploration of 1500 m of diamond drilling for. Later, this project expanded and in fact is now in the mine construction phase, where Energold has completed over 60 000 m of mainly diamond core drilling but also some infill reverse circulation (RC). Right now, Energold is preparing to recommence drilling in February 2018 to hopefully expand the resource. In addition, the company is going to be drilling for the same client on another prospect, in Cote d’Ivoire, and will be looking to maintain this relationship, as well as its many other client relationships, into the future.  

 The Series man-portable fleet 

Part of an overall fleet of 230 drilling rigs, Energold’s fleet of modular, man-portable, minimal impact drill rigs is the largest in the world, and its teams are highly experienced in the delivery of projects in a wide range of environments.  

Drill programs have been undertaken at high altitude locations, in tropical bush or jungle sites, on frozen environmentally sensitive marshes or within village locations. This wealth of experience and continued development enables the company to deliver projects safely, cost effectively and, where possible, ahead of schedule.  

The company also operates traditional diamond core drilling rigs, such as the CS1000 and CS14, as well as a number of RC and air core drills to provide flexibility for its clients. 

Drilling in Finland

 Small in size and big on performance 

The company’s portable rigs can easily be packed into a 20 ft container along with a complete down-the-hole tooling package for shipping by sea, or, alternatively, crated for airfreight purposes. This enables Energold to respond quickly and deliver the same high standards to any drilling project worldwide. 

The rigs themselves are modular in design, which provides flexibility for moving purposes, and the drills still deliver over 100 horsepower. This enables them to drill to 150 m in H-size (63.5 mm core), 550m in NTW-size (56 mm core) and 800 m in BTW-size (42 mm core), subject to the prevailing ground conditions. 

They utilize 1.5 m rods that are generally easier to transport than 3 m rods, particularly in man-portable situations. The depth capability of the rig is maximized by using thin wall (TW) NTW and BTW rods and barrels, which also has the benefit of producing slightly larger core diameters than standard wireline (WL) NWL or BWL.  

The capabilities of the rigs not only mean production is maximised but also help Energold’s teams ensure they maintain the highest technical standards of core recovery and directional stability. All projects utilize modern industry standard survey and orientation techniques, and Energold is also able to provide directional drilling or wedging where required. The rigs have mud mixing systems as standard and can be set up with mud collection and recycling, wherever required, for even lower environmental impact or where the water supply is limited. 

The portable rigs are produced in house by Energold’s UK-based manufacturing subsidiary, Dando Drilling. Energold acquired Dando Drilling International in 2011 as part of a diversification strategy that also included an energy company, Bertram Drilling and an infrastructure drilling company, Cros Man, undertaking Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD). The aim of the Dando Drilling acquisition was to expose the Group to rig manufacturing opportunities in the water, mineral and geotechnical markets while also allowing the Group to continue developing and manufacturing its own drills in-house.  

Trailerized Series rig at work in Germany

The Series III man-portable on Mount Nimba, Guinea 

In 2010, the company was awarded a contract for the provision of a single portable Series III drilling rig to work at the steep and precipitous Mount Nimba project in Guinea – the Société Minière de Forage Guinée (SMFG) project. The single portable drill was established on the project in mid-2010. Throughout the rest of 2010 and into 2011 the company managed to establish good drilling performance and reliability. Minimizing access requirements at the property, which had environmental restrictions placed on it due to its location within the confines of the Mount Nimba Nature reserve, was a key benefit for the client. The portable drill further demonstrated its ability to adhere to the strict safety framework of the client, joint venture (JV) partners BHP Billiton and Newmont Mining.  

In mid-2011 Energold expanded the operation to four diamond core drilling machines. The requirement was for an expansion of the existing program, which involved moving into a new area of friable iron ore that required larger diameter core samples and provided technical drilling challenges to ensure sample quality and recoveries were maintained in these formations. The rigs had to be able to move across narrow, hand-cut access tracks, where no mechanized plant was allowed to travel. 

Energold Series rig at work on Mount Nimba, Guinea

 Tailoring the template: the CS1000ATV man-portable rig 

For that reason Energold had entered into a contract with Atlas Copco Mining and Exploration in Canada for the development of a new version of the tried and tested CS 1000 drilling rig that was to be tailored to the Energold philosophy of drill rig portability.  

The new design allowed for the normally trailerized CS 1000 to be split into four main modular sections whereby each section could be fitted with stub axles and wheels for movement behind vehicles, or fixed onto a helicopter skid for movement by air to remote locations. This flexibility gave the client more options in their choice of location for the drill to access, while the drill’s capabilities still provided the performance necessary for dealing with a range of conditions. The prototype design for the CS 1000 ATV was finalized in mid-2011 and manufacturing commenced. In addition to the existing portable Energold rig on-site and the CS 1000 rig, two further Energold Series man-portable drills were manufactured for the project in Canada. 

Drilling was carried out using triple tube P and H-sizes and thin wall equipment, while the methodology and mud programs developed with its suppliers allowed Energold to maximize core recovery and production rates across the project. The project was completed successfully through a combination of the correct mix of rig types and a co-ordinated team effort between the client representative and the Energold team. 

Flexibility means efficiency 

Energold’s portable Series rigs can provide a flexible solution to client project requirements, for example, they have been mounted onto tracked carriers, custom-made trailers and also mounted onto sleds for movement with snow scooters in arctic conditions. These other rig-mounting options reduce moving time between drill pads where hand portability is not required and additional access is available. The rigs can be demounted from these carriers if required and converted back to their hand-carried status.  

Safety is assured with the Series 

As would be expected, the Energold portable Series rigs meet the highest safety standards and incorporate all the appropriate features including rotation guarding systems, and are constantly being developed to incorporate improved safety and performance. All of Energold’s drill crews observe a rigorous health and safety protocol with improvement and training being carried out continuously. The company’s safety culture is as important to its people as their technical expertise and remains a top priority throughout their operations worldwide.  

With a rich, diverse and successful track record in this most specialized of markets, Energold is extremely well placed to be the exploration drill contractor of choice on a wide range of future projects.