Recon Drilling: Reaching new depths at the Santander mine in Peru

October 5, 2021

by Marc Scoles, General Manager at Recon Drilling SAC

Recon Drilling rig in Peru

Recon Drilling (Recon) are proudly drilling for Trevali Mining at their Santander mine, some 200 km (125 mi) away from Lima, Peru. The zinc, lead and silver underground mine consists of a 2000-tonne-per-day processing mill, a conventional sulphide flotation mill, and associated infrastructure. Recon’s project has started in mid-December 2020 and is still ongoing.

Recon have a team of experienced local Peruvian professionals in all capacities on the project, from supervision and safety, through maintenance and the drill crews themselves. We also have an Australian project manager with extensive global drilling experience on board. Owing to this talented team and a fantastic client to work for, Recon have thankfully had a smooth start in Peru and continue to learn about handling the local conditions to ensure any issues arising in the future will be managed.

The project is using a world-class Sandvik DE740 drill rig on tracks. It has the capacity to drill P-size – 830 m (≈ 2723 ft), H-size – 1230 m (≈ 4035 ft), N-size – 1837 m (≈ 6027 ft) and B-size – 2350 m (≈ 7710 ft) at sea level. The rig is set up at an altitude between 4500 m (14 800 ft) and 5000 m (16 400 ft), making for some incredible views, high up in the Peruvian mountains.

The very first hole we drilled for the project was our very first hole in Peru as well. We reached a depth of 1990.3 m (≈ 6530 ft) – the deepest that has even been drilled in Santander, and one of the deepest holes in the whole country. Aside from the depth, we successfully drilled through several major faults on the way to completion. Moving forward, average hole depths have been around 600 m (1970 ft) and 800 m (2625 ft). In addition, we are the first company to use the Reflex HUB for drill reports – a cloud-based data management and analysis solution with near-real-time updates – so we are paperless with our reporting to the client. This is extremely helpful for the invoicing process, as it is an all-in-one system and fits with our commitment to improving environmental standards.

Drilling at such a high altitude brings its own challenges as the crew and equipment come face to face with the elements of Mother Earth. In one day, the weather can vary dramatically including spots of sunshine, snowstorms and freezing winds. This makes for a difficult scenario to work in and requires preparedness. For the equipment, we needed to winterize the rig, the waterlines, etc. We also had to instruct our crews to drain the pumps immediately after a shutdown as water would freeze quickly at this high altitude and could crack the pumps.

The crews must hydrate and manage fatigue on a constant basis, while handling the different weather conditions. The health, safety and wellbeing of our workers are top priorities. For this reason, we have taken the extra precaution to help mitigate fatigue by increasing crew sizes. Each crew has an extra off-sider permanently added to the team. The company provides a rig office on the drill site for shelter and warmth, which is also a place to heat up meals, make coffee, eat a hot lunch, etc.

With all of this effort, so far eleven holes have been completed on plan. There’s more drilling ahead of us and Recon go to extra lengths to make sure the project stays on track.

Sunshine and snow at Recon’s drill site
Sunshine and snow at Recon’s drill site

About the company

Established in 2020, Recon Drilling provide 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.

Geodrill has always invested in modern equipment and world-class operations to supply their clients with a ‘one-stop’ drilling solution. As a purpose-led company, their expertise, experience in the field, highest maintenance and HSEQ standards, and ESG vision and values, have earned Geodrill a reputation for delivering results. This is demonstrated by an impressive rig growth, attributable to a strong culture of professionalism, customer satisfaction, and caring for the communities in which they operate.

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