by David Bradley, Co-Owner at RJLL Drilling
RJLL Drilling (RJLL) was founded in 2014 by Réal Lemoine and Jérôme Lefebvre. They both started working for Bradley Brothers at the age of 16, climbing the ladder from helpers to drill rig operators to supervisors. In the last years of Bradley Brothers, Réal was the Canadian Operations Manager and Jérôme was the Arctic Superintendent. They worked for Bradley Brothers for 36 years up until Major Drilling bought the company in 2011.
Both Réal and Jérôme worked for Major Drilling for a few years, but the different culture between a private and public company was too difficult for them to bear, so they decided to start RJLL Drilling in 2014.
Réal and Jérôme’s objective at the time was to have a small but efficient drilling company that would surpass the industry standards. Since their sons were also drillers, they too saw the opportunity to build something with them and eventually pass the company down for generations.
In 2019, Réal and Jérôme asked David Bradley if he would like to join them on the adventure. Having worked together in Bradley Brothers for over 20 years, it was an easy decision for David to make. So, in January 2020, David officially joined as a shareholder. At the time RJLL had three surface drills in operation, one in Finland and two in Canada.
David had worked for his family business – Bradley Brothers for 23 years. He started working on drills as a summer job at the age of 13, then after college, he worked for six years as a helper and then as a drill rig operator.
At the age of 26, David started in the office as an assistant contract manager. A couple of years later, he became operations manager for the Canadian operation and at the age of 30, David became VP of Operations and Co-owner of Bradley Brothers. When the family business was sold in 2011, David spent the next nine years as a Co-owner of a management consulting firm until he joined RJLL.
In the fall of 2020, Marc-André Larouche joined the company as Financial Director and became a shareholder of RJLL in July 2021.
Powered by the Bradley Brothers culture, RJLL is committed to providing high-quality service and exceeding the expectations of our customers.
As of today, we cover mainly the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, the Canadian Arctic, and Finland. The main office is based in Rouyn-Noranda and we have a branch office in Timmins, Ontario. We do helicopter-supported drill jobs, shallow holes and deep hole drilling. We specialize in wedges, directional drilling, and complicated projects.
RJLL also has two important Joint Ventures. The first is RJLL/Nuvumiut with the Qaqqalik Land Holding Corporation out of Salluit, which covers the Québec Arctic. Another JV is with the Anishnabe Community of Lac Simon, which covers their territory in the Abitibi region.
We believe that our strength is our employees. RJLL has 145 employees as of today. We have great people in our administration and in the shop. Our in-field team is wonderful. Most of them have worked with Bradley Brothers and have many years of experience, and specialize in heli-portable work, deep hole, and directional drilling.
Everyone in the company is committed towards excellence. When a situation arises from a project, our approach is not to hide anything from our customers. We prefer to be honest and share with the client the information we gathered and then find and propose a solution that will make sense to all parties involved. We believe that the way management and employees react when facing an issue makes a big difference in customer satisfaction.
RJLL has 20 surface drills in operation. Our equipment consists mainly of drills made by Usinage Marcotte, which are based in Val d’Or (read more about the company’s products here). We have 14 HTM 2500 rigs that can drill down to 2500 m (8202 ft) in N-size. We also have six Mancore 900H or equivalent that can do heli-portable and mobile drilling work with a depth capability of up to 900 m (2953 ft). All our drills come with the proper equipment that can move them to different hole locations. Our equipment of choice for such tasks are the Caterpillar D6-T tractors.
Additionally, RJLL supplies the proper equipment to carry the crews to the drilling location. Our fleet consists of several Polaris 6×6 and Argo ATVs, and Prinoths and other snow machines in the winter. It is very important for us to have good and well-maintained equipment for the safety of our crews, particularly when working in the Arctic wilderness.
We believe that all drilling projects are important, yet we are extremely proud of the following:
We are presently working on a heli-supported job where we will have five drills. Considering that in the winter, we only have about eight hours of daylight to do drill moves with a helicopter, we are building tracked platforms, which will be able to carry the drills to new sites around the clock and maximize productivity. What makes this project special is that we have to be able to dismantle the platform into parts of no more than 2000 lb (907 kg), so we can sling them to the project site with the helicopter. Once there, our team will reassemble the platform and install the drill on top. The platform will be powered by the drill engine. This for us is adapting to our customer’s needs!
Going back in time over our many successful projects, the first one that stands out, in particular, is the Wasamac project with Yamana Gold in Rouyn-Noranda. We are truly proud that we solved the challenges we had on this specific project. All the drilling was being done in a residential area where houses were very close. One of the main challenges for this job was to work with Yamana in finding a way to minimize the sound of the drill to a point that had never been achieved before. Basically, the challenge was that the residents wouldn’t hear the drill at all!
When we started thinking of a solution to this challenge, there were two considerations: the first one was to eliminate the old-fashioned sound mitigation walls that were very heavy, and therefore not safe to manipulate, and build an effective sound mitigation system that was extremely efficient. We worked with a great supplier that had the sound mitigation expertise we needed. They helped us find the right solution for this specific project, while Yamana did all that could be done with the community; and they are having great success with project acceptability.
After a few months of planning and another month of testing, we surpassed our objectives. The system we developed was great because it was installed directly on the drill so there was no need for manipulation from the crews once set up, but if manipulation was needed, this system was extremely light. And the efficiency was excellent! At 10 m (32.8 ft) away from the drill, the noise was less than 60 decibels (for reference: roughly the level of a normal conversation). At 60 m (197 ft), you could barely hear the drill.
Another project we are very proud of is the O3 mining project in the Val d’Or area. When we began work on this project, we had to drill 2500 m (8202 ft) holes in soap stone. We were the first contractor to be able to get to the targeted depth.
To be able to go through this rock formation, our supervisors worked in close collaboration with mud suppliers to be able to find the right mixture that would allow to drill at depth without having the rock formation squeeze and stick our rods in the hole.
At the early stage of RJLL, we did a program for BHP Mining. Just qualifying to work for BHP made us proud because it meant that our organizational structure in safety and environment was excellent. To us this meant we could work for both major and junior mining companies.
Our next development phase is underground drilling. The objective is to have a total of 10 underground rigs in the Canadian market. Once we achieve this goal, we will be at our sweet size we had aimed for in January 2020 with 20 surface and 10 underground drills. In parallel, we are looking to develop in Scandinavia and other parts of the world.
Outside of that, our main goals are to continue growing a great business with great values and to continue building good relationships with our Joint Ventures, customers, suppliers, and employees. This way we can become one of the leaders in the industry. We are not aiming to become the biggest drilling company, but we are aiming to provide exceptional quality!
Our dream would be to surround the next generation with great people and be able to pass it along!
For more information visit: rjll.ca