Recon Drilling: Breaking records. Again.

February 11, 2023

by Mark Scoles, General Manager LATAM at Recon Drilling SAC

Rig 740-7 in action at Valeriano
Rig 740-7 in action at Valeriano

Recon Drilling (Recon) recently expanded into the Chilean market and landed at Atex Resources’ flagship Copper-Gold Valeriano project. The Project is located approximately 125 km (78 mi) to the southeast of the city of Vallenar, Atacama Region, Chile and 27 km (17 mi) northeast of Barrick’s Veladero Mine. The clients requested a total of 10 000 m (32 808 ft) of deep hole directional drilling and a company that could provide this service entirely in-house. Within weeks of choosing Recon, they were already setting up in Chile and were contacting vendors to get the ball rolling!


This was to be the first directional drilling program implemented by a junior company in Chile and dependent on the success of the initial drilling, the program could be extended with another 10 000 m (32 808 ft).

The location of the Valeriano project could also prove a challenge for a less-than-prepared company. Elevations vary from 3800 to 4400 m (12 467-14 436 ft) above sea level, meaning that we had to choose the right drill and equipment for the job.

In preparation, two specially-prepared Sandvik DE740 track-mounted drills were selected. With capacities of 800 m (2625 ft) in P-size, 1200 m (3937 ft) H-size and 1800 m (5906 ft) N-size, a small footprint and 9 m (29.5 ft) pull they were the perfect choice for this project. Recon’s Maintenance Team for the LATAM region, which includes experts from Chile, familiar with the difficulties of working at high altitude (air is less dense), prepared the drills, which were required to be fully disassembled and upgraded for power and set up in Recon’s Lima workshop. The team has come through yet again as has been proved by the rigs’ performance!

Recon also invested into all new lightweight drill pipes from Boart Longyear with stronger joints, making them the perfect rod for this type of project, especially through the directional portion. Additionally, Recon chose Oriented core, gyro-surveying equipment and downhole motors, provided by IMDEX Chile.

Recon’s team at start up included Australian General Manager Mark Scoles, who conducted the hole planning in-house allowing for complete control of the operation and avoiding the common challenges, together with international directional drilling specialists with Chilean drill crews and supervisors. Since directional drilling is a relatively new technique in Chile, and the region, the company invested heavily to ensure local crews receive continuous training.

First piece of core after the Navi run
First piece of core after the Navi run

Breaking the record from the first hole

Drilling began in October 2022 and having designed the holes, Mark Scoles was on site  to drill and complete Recon’s first Navi cut (NX) in the southern half of South America. Everything went as planned. That first hole was completed at 2130 m (6988 ft) in N-size. A 1275 m (4183 ft) daughter hole was also completed.

With a continuous cut of 63 m (207 ft) – between 870 to 933 m (2854–3061 ft) – the final target was reached at a depth of 1650 m (5413 ft) within 5 m (16.4 ft) of radius. The team conducted a whopping 717 m (2352 ft) of free drilling after the cut without any corrections by using drilling barrel configuration and drilling techniques to keep the hole tracking.

This daughter hole commenced from a vertical hole at approximately 850 m (2788 ft) with a casing wedge used to deflect out of the parent hole followed up with a directional drilling run to line the hole up with the target.

With the success of the initial holes Recon is validating the value of using directional drilling for efficient deep exploration with holes over 2000 m (6560 ft) in length.

Continued drilling

Drilling on the Valeriano project is still ongoing with two drill rigs and two more deep holes on the way.

About the company

Established in 2020, Recon Drilling provides diamond core drilling services to major, intermediate and junior mining companies in Peru and in the LATAM region. With a modern fleet of drills adapted for high altitudes, the company specializes in deep directional drilling using DHM (Down Hole Motor) and wedging methods. Recon Drilling is a subsidiary of Geodrill Limited, best known for its extensive footprint throughout Africa and its enviable reputation of providing safe, professional specialized drilling services to major, mid-tier and small exploration companies.

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Read Issue 22 here: 

Issue 22 / 2023