by Dave Harper, CEO at Geodrill
Geodrill is a well-established drilling contractor and a preferred partner in West Africa. The company prides itself on investing in modern equipment and world-class operations to supply its clients with a ‘one-stop’ drilling solution. As a purpose-led company, their expertise, experience in the field, highest maintenance, Health, safety, environment and quality (HSEQ) standards, and Environmental, social and governance (ESG) vision and values, have earned Geodrill a reputation for delivering results. This is best demonstrated by an impressive rig growth profile – attributable to the company’s strong culture of professionalism, customer satisfaction and caring for the communities in which they operate.
Company history and development
Geodrill was founded in Ghana in 1998 by the current CEO Dave Harper with one rig and one contract. The company soon began adding rigs in response to growing demand and has continued to expand from country to country.
For the following decade, 2000 to 2010, Geodrill focused on expanding its operations into neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire where the company established a number of operational and support bases to service its growing rig fleet. The company also operated in Niger, Guinea and Togo.
In 2010, the company was listed on the Toronto stock market, under ticker GEO.T. In 2017, Geodrill commenced operations underground and currently operates a fleet of six Boart Longyear LM™90 underground drill rigs.
Three years later, the company expanded its geographic presence into South America through its wholly-owned subsidiary Recon Drilling. Their maiden project in the Santander mine, Peru, has broken the record for the deepest hole in the country at 1990.3 m (≈ 6530 ft). Drilling was conducted at altitudes ranging from 4500 m (14 800 ft) to 5000 m (16 400 ft). Recon has since continued expanding in the Latin American region.
In 2021, Geodrill also added mine blast hole drilling to its business, providing the full gamut of explorations services. The company was honored with an award for its excellent operational record in mining and exploration by The Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF). The ceremony was held in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region in Ghana, in the presence of the country’s president. Among the previous recipients is Kofi Annan – former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Today, Geodrill has a fleet of 71 drill rigs and is one of the leading exploration companies operating primarily in Ghana, Burkina-Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali in West Africa; Egypt in North Africa, and Peru in South America. The company revenue in Q3 of 2021 has increased by 44% in comparison to Q3 2020, while maintaining strong profitability.
One of the key aspects behind these excellent results is that Geodrill has extended its core multi-rig operations. Furthermore, the company managed to maintain a high utilization rate of 65% even during the wet season (April – October).
In 2021, Geodrill was simultaneously utilizing rigs for drilling projects with the following clients:
- 12 rigs with Endeavour Mining between their sites in Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso;
- 12 rigs with Perseus Mining on sites in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana;
- 8 rigs with Roxgold in Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso;
- 8 rigs working in Ghana for Asanko Gold;
- 6 rigs with Atlantic Lithium (formerly Iron Ridge Resources) on projects in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
The projects with Endeavour Mining and Perseus Mining alone are expected to generate 500 000 m (1 640 420 ft) of drilling in 2022 and 2023.
‘With these significant industry tailwinds and favorable macroeconomic conditions, Geodrill remains focused on continuing to drive growth in revenue, earnings per share and return on equity,’ said CEO Dave Harper. ‘It is this type of organic growth, underpinned by our position as a driller of choice in West Africa, paired with long-term growth initiatives to expand globally, that continue to make Geodrill a compelling growth opportunity’.
Geodrill provides a broad selection of diverse drilling services (both exploration and delineation) to meet the specific needs of its clients. The company has drilled a total of 1.4 million meters (4 593 175 ft) in 2020 with hole depths ranging from 20 m (65.62 ft) all the way to 1950 m (6398 ft). These results are achieved through their complete range of services including Reverse circulation (RC), Diamond core, Air-core, Grade control, Geo-tech, underground and water bore drilling. Offering both surface and underground drilling, as well as specialized and more routine drilling services, has helped Geodrill establish itself as a universal drilling services provider. The company continually evaluates its suite of offered services with a view to maintaining a leadership position in the industry.
The most preferred and popular service among Geodrill’s clients is RC drilling, typically to depths of up to 400 m (1312 ft). Geodrill often provides this method with the help of its multi-purpose rigs, which can switch between RC and diamond core drilling mid-way through a hole with minimal effort or down-time. This gives clients flexibility and reduces stand-by time and preparation and mobilization charges. Thus, the company’s efficiency is improved, lowering their ‘average cost per meter’.
Highly dedicated experts from around the world form the globally mobile Geodrill team that is able to teach best-in-class drillers and help them become qualified industry professionals. Geodrill has a strong emphasis on local employment and training from within. This is a major reason for the creation of a technical training center; a comprehensive state-of-the-art support base located near Kumasi, Ghana that is unique for Africa.
The company has more than 1000 employees across its operations and administration teams. Geodrill hires locally as much as possible and provides extensive training and leadership opportunities to promote staff from within. As a result, the company has few expatriates in employment and relies almost entirely on the extensive expertise of their local staff.
Geodrill is an equal opportunity employer proudly advocating for gender and diversity inclusion in recruitment and talent management. The company puts a large emphasis on the fair and equal treatment of everyone – from the directors to the candidates – regardless of their gender, age, culture and ethnicity, religious beliefs or disabilities.
The hub and spoke model
With a geographic footprint spread across two continents, the company has established a ‘hub and spoke’ model with Ghana as the hub, and Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali; Egypt in North Africa; and Peru in South America as the spokes.
The facility in Ghana has a specialized CNC machining center for manufacturing drill rods and consumables, thus reducing the need to ship parts from out-of-country minimizing downtime and increasing efficiency. The facility is also home to the Drill Academy where Geodrill training and development programs aim to provide personnel with the required skills and knowledge to perform drilling and maintenance to the highest international levels.
The Geodrill safety procedures have been developed to meet and exceed all applicable government and client standards. By partnering with industry leaders in behavioral safety, incident investigation, workers’ compensation and Occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) standards, the company has built a comprehensive integrated Health Safety and Environmental Management System. The core values of safety and productivity are a testament to Geordill’s commitment that all projects should be completed with Zero Harm to employees, contractors and the environment.
Recently, Geodrill has been contributing a significant 2% of its total revenue to its ESG program. Over the past 24 months, Geodrill has honored its Corporate social responsibility (CSR) ongoing recipients while developing a strategy to create a legacy for future generations and to respond to urgent appeals such as:
Immediate initiatives, concerned with COVID-19 – a community-based campaign to address urgent hygiene needs in Burkina Faso, were carried out in conjunction with Rox Gold.
A little girl’s emergency lifesaving surgery overseas for rare and disturbing eye cancer.
Geodrill contributed for the construction of a purified water system for Pearl Safe Haven, the first safe house with a rehabilitation program for women and children survivors of gender-based violence in West Africa. Geodrill first undertook to drill the water hole and provided a sizeable donation for the construction works along with the Australian High Commission to Ghana. The company also stepped up to fund the amount needed to complete the works, including the roof, the furniture and the fittings. Without Geodrill filling the gap to finish the building, it would not have been completed, and thanks to the contributions it was able to open in early 2021.
In line with the Sustainable development goals of the United Nations, education has been a key receiver of funds, as well as employee and management time and efforts. Significant sums of 150 000 cedi (approx. AUD 35 000) per institution have been awarded to improve the technical competence of a science laboratory, sporting and boarding facilities of three significant high schools in Ghana: Achimota in the capital, Tamale in the northern part, and Mfantsipim in the Cape Coast area. While a lot of schools are in need, these donations will take competitive entry schools to the next level which also means a greater opportunity to continue to hire locally and to have home-grown technical expertise.
Furthermore, education access for the handicapped remains an issue in Ghana and an important step is providing prosthetic limbs and specialized physiotherapy for children in need. Geodrill has been a long-term donor of Orthopedic Training Center in Nsawam. In June 2020, the company donated an emergency roof for the Cerebral Palsy therapy building, which had been ruined in a storm. Every year Geodrill contributes specialty-built wheelchairs for those in need at the center as well as general funding to continue giving movement back to children and youth (as well as adults) so that they can go on to participate in school and gain meaningful employment later on in life.
An innovative collaboration with Children of the Light Ghana, a holistic education center, was formed in November 2020 with an environmental creative – McKingtorch Creatives. Children of the Light students were visiting the streets of Accra to read and share stories with children living on the street and became aware that many were not sleeping on any kind of mats. Geodrill funded 120 mats that were entirely made in Ghana, using recycled materials. The mats were distributed by the children to other children sharing the gift of giving. These unique mats led to a further collaboration with McKingtorch and bus shelters have been commissioned out of 100% recycled plastic waste. The collection site for plastic waste is hosted at the Geodrill Accra office.
Promoting environmental education in Ghana, Geodrill has funded several initiatives over the past 24 months: Let’s Go Farming: a children’s farming and livelihood educational TV Show in Ghana, most recent episodes sponsored by Geodrill were August 7, 14 and 21, 2021.
While these are just a sample of 2020-2021 projects Geodrill has undertaken in social and environmental aspects of its ESG program, this is an impressive range of recipients, with a firm policy of non-discrimination. As much as possible, CEO Dave Harper has been sure to play an active part in donating not only funds but committing his own time and that of key personnel at Geodrill to ensure that the personal connection, value and significance of the projects are emphasized.
2022 and beyond
Geordill will continue its commitment to ESG causes and particularly to the communities where it operates throughout 2022. One of the biggest highlights is drilling for Ghana’s first lithium mine – Atlantic Lithium. Furthermore, Geodrill remains bullish on its expansion on the Egyptian market and expects to announce a significant drilling contract in the near future and the company is also looking to expand its operations to the Drill & Blast market. Meanwhile, Recon Drilling will increase its presence in South America through the subsidiary’s successful projects.
‘We expect conditions to remain strong into the beginning of 2022 and beyond, as gold prices continue to surge, attracting investment attention and driving exploration budgets and growth’, concluded Dave Harper.
Read Issue 18 here: