Top 10 mineral exploration drilling contractors

July 4, 2018

Statistics based on 2017 results

by Martina Samarova, Marketing and Communications Manager at Coring Magazine

After a long downturn, 2017, especially the last quarter, turned out to be profitable for most companies involved in diamond drilling. Coring Magazine reviews the 2017 annual results announced publicly by drilling contractors around the world and ranks the top 10 companies based on revenues from mineral exploration drilling services. The statistics below consider the portion of annual revenue earned only from mineral exploration drilling services, even if the contractors offer other types of drilling services.

All the values given in the charts are approximate and have been included to help us see whether market conditions are improving; we have limited the discussion to the 10 most prosperous companies of 2017. Apart from the income of the companies, where it has been possible to do so, we also indicate the number of mineral exploration drill rigs they owned in 2017, as well as the number of countries they operated in throughout the year.

Results in brief


* For the purposes of this pie chart, we have assumed that the annual revenues of all the other drilling contractors are 40% out of 100. We do not have the possibility to point out the actual percentage and would like to state that in fact, it may be quite different.

Eight of the companies reported an increase in their annual revenue as compared to the previous fiscal period.

The highest earner is Boart Longyear, having received 443 million USD in revenue solely from mineral exploration drilling services. The company announced an 11.8% revenue increase earned from mineral exploration drilling services, as well as an improvement in drill rig utilization when compared to the 2016 fiscal year. Its number of mineral exploration drill rigs for 2017 was 564. During 2017 it operated in 20 countries.

Second is Major Drilling with 235 million USD (301 million CAD) in mineral exploration drilling revenue, which was 1% less than the previous fiscal year. In 2017 the company had 646 drill rigs. Major Drilling operated across five regions.

The third position is held by Foraco International SA, with 128 million USD of mineral exploration drilling revenue having been reported in 2017. Throughout the year the mineral exploration drilling income of the company increased. According to a 2017 factsheet published on Foraco’s website, the contractor had 240 exploration drill rigs. In 2017 Foraco operated in 22 countries.

Another leader in the industry is Capital Drilling, with its reported mineral exploration drilling revenue of 115 million USD. The contractor noted that this was a significant increase of 90 million USD. For the 2017 fiscal year, according to its financial summary, the size of the mineral exploration drilling fleet was 73. The company was focused on working in East Africa and West African regions but had operations in South America, Europe and Asia as well.

Then there is Swick Mining – with 98 million USD annual revenue (130 million AUD), earned from mineral exploration drilling services. The company reported a 4.1% increase on the previous fiscal period. The total number of drilled meters for 2017 was 1 122 444 m. The overall number of drill rigs belonging to the company in 2017 was 76, the number of the active ones 58. Swick operated in Australia and had projects in USA and Portugal.

Layne Drilling reported significant consolidated revenue, of which 97 million USD were earned from mineral exploration drilling services alone. Layne Drilling provided mineral services across four countries, with the help of 117 rigs. Rig utilization was 58%.

Next on the list is Orbit Garant – this company enjoyed an increase of 16.4% in mineral exploration drilling revenue, which totaled 96 million USD (125 million
CAD). Its fleet included 221 drill rigs. Orbit Garant provided services in Canada and internationally.

Eight in the statistics is Geodrill Ltd. According to its consolidated financial statements for 2017, the company earned 83 million USD, from mineral exploration drilling services – being 9 million USD more than the previous fiscal period. The contractor’s drilling fleet consisted of 62 rigs.

Next is Ausdrill, with 70 million USD (93 million AUD) earned in revenue from mineral exploration drilling services alone, and 50 mineral exploration drill rigs. In 2017, Ausdrill reported a decrease in the income received from mineral exploration drilling services.

The tenth position is held by OGK Group. The mineral exploration revenue reported by the company was 55 million USD. Their fleet included 82 drill rigs, 67 of which were used for mineral exploration services. OGK Group informed us that they operated in 27 regions across Russia, and in Armenia. In 2017, the company set new records in Russia by completing 467 000 drilled meters.

Our thoughts on market conditions

The current survey shows that 2017 was a successful year for the diamond drilling industry. Market conditions improved in favor of drilling contractors. The consolidated annual revenues of the companies included in our survey increased on the previous fiscal year by 28%. Drilling contractors informed us of high levels of rig utilization. They also reported a growing presence of drilling companies in different locations all around the world. Throughout the year, the companies we looked at completed multiple projects and started new ones. It is expected that market conditions will remain stable and the trend of improving on previous results will continue.

Coring Magazine would like to update these market statistics on a regular basis – the accuracy of which, to a great extent, depends on the responsiveness of the companies listed. For any comments and inquiries regarding the statistics, please contact us: