Top exploration drilling contractors for 2021 – Statistics of diamond drilled meters

July 8, 2022



Coring Magazine is proud to present brand new ‘Top mineral exploration drilling contractors’ statistics for 2021 and 2020, classifying the leading diamond drilling contractors in the industry according to the number of meters drilled by them. Unlike the previous Coring statistics that contained total number of drilled meters, this time Coring Magazine filtered the portion of meters, achieved through diamond drilling only. The contractors offer other types of drilling services and if we had considered them, their positions would have been different. The listed numbers were provided and confirmed by the companies themselves.

There are other companies that qualify for these statistics but are not listed here for reasons beyond our control. We tried, in fact we did our best, to include all diamond drilling contractors from the industry that we knew of, however, many did not respond to our invitations; others were omitted per their own request.

Coring Magazine cannot be held liable for any errors or inconsistencies presented in this report.
We always aim to rank as many companies as possible and next time, we hope to present even more information. Everyone is invited to get in touch, submit their numbers and thus help us accomplish this goal.


2020 was supposed to be just another year, but became probably the only time in history when drills across the world stood still for an extended period of time. The COVID-19 lockdowns and the following restrictions caused a downturn in the industry with delayed projects, and reduced drill rig utilization, caused labor, drill rig and supply shortages in major regions. Furthermore, according to S&P data annual global exploration budget fell to USD 8.3 billion. 

As restrictions eased, companies struggled to catch up and developed various strategies and programs for recovery. By the end of the year, annual drilled meterage decreased slightly – by less than 10% across the industry – in comparison to 2019. A beneficial factor to the recovery in the second half of 2020 and throughout 2021 could be the continued trend of LTI reductions, innovations, and the general industry-wide improvement of on-site safety protocols and training. 

2021 marked a meteoric recovery for the whole exploration drilling industry. The increase of commodity prices brought revitalized interest in exploration and a 35% jump in annual global exploration budgets to USD 11.5 billion. In turn, diamond drilling companies across the world recorded bigger drilled meterage – back to 2019 levels. Some surpassed even that, with increases ranging in the 10-15%, due to new multi-million contracts. It is important to note that multiple companies set new depth records and have claimed improvements to core recovery. 

Expectedly, reported revenues and profits in 2021 rose by an average of 15 to 20%. This led to multiple high-profile mergers both within drilling and manufacturing, and a drive toward fleet expansion, modernization, and innovations. Many aspects of diamond exploration drilling were significantly improved in 2021. Notable is also the wider introduction of autonomous drill rigs, artificial intelligence, cloud-based solutions, and better rod handlers. 

Even with all this progress and improvements, 2021 brought difficulties. The shortage of drillers and geologists caused by the COVID-19 travel restrictions in 2020 deepened as the demand for staff for projects increased. As a result, hourly rates increased significantly in both Australia and Canada, perhaps also fueled by the spike in inflation later in the year. There were also drill rig shortages and delays in their manufacture, as supply chain issues continue. 

2022 appears to continue the positive trend from 2021 so far. According to data from S&P Global, investments in exploration remain high, so do drilling activities. The prices of most commodities reached record levels in February and remain high. The latter part of 2022 could bring uncertainty, however. The price of fuel has skyrocketed, so has global inflation, and a recession is more than possible. One thing is certain, Coring Magazine will continue reporting the annual drilled meterage results.

Read Issue 20 here: 

Issue 20 / 2022