Top exploration drilling contractors for 2022 – Statistics of diamond drilled meters

November 28, 2023
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In 2022, a wave of inflation washed across the world. The costs of labor, materials and fuel skyrocketed. Nonetheless, the interest in drilling services remained high.

2022 brought a slight contraction of over 5% in the meterage achieved by diamond drilling contractors in these statistics. We should stress that this contraction does not reflect an industry issue rather it may be a sign of increased drilling efficiency. This theory is supported by S&P Global data, as the approximate number of completed drillholes jumped to 70 008 in 2022 vs 69 000 drillholes in 2021. The number of drill projects globally climbed to 1751.

The economic conditions of 2022 have also been reflected in the revenue reported. There is an increase in the range of 15-20% compared to 2021, possibly fueled by the increase in the cost per meter drilled globally. Reported profits, however, paint a complicated picture. Certainly, there are many companies with double-digit and even record-breaking increases, while others reported tame gains.

The number of drill rigs owned by the contractors in this list remains close to 2000, mostly unchanged from 2021. Most of the participating companies have augmented their fleets with new drill rigs, however. Rig utilization for the several companies that have reported it remained well over 75%.

Many companies also increased their staff in 2022, though some challenges to recruitment remain. Training and safety continue to be a focus for contractors, alongside ESG. Injuries remain low, and companies (including some that have chosen not to provide data) continued the zero-LTI streaks set in 2021.

Diamond Drilling Contractor Results: In Focus

Boart Longyear takes the first spot with a reported 2 516 765 m (8 257 103 ft) achieved through diamond drilling, a less than 0.1% increase from the results of 2021. According to the annual report, the drilling services division of Boart Longyear remains the bigger portion of the company’s business and achieved nearly 20% growth in revenue and over 25% in EBITDA for FY22 (ended in Feb. 2023).

Major Drilling achieved 2 381 663 m (7 813 855 ft) through diamond drilling in calendar 2022. This result represents an increase of ≈40 000 m (131 234 ft) from 2021. Drilled meters for RC in 2022 were 1 193 372 m (3 915 262 ft). The company operates on five continents and has 600 drill rigs (450 diamond), almost unchanged from 2021. Revenue and profits for FY22 (ended in April 2022) have increased by over 50%, while both revenue and profit for FY23 have increased by over 10% from 2022.

DDH1 Limited has skyrocketed to the third spot, partly due to the completion of the industry-changing merger with Swick Mining Services. The new entity, also consisting of DDH1 Drilling, Strike Drilling and Ranger Drilling, has achieved 2 123 267 m (6 966 099 ft) in diamond drilling and 1 283 156 m (4 209 829 ft) through RC for 2022. The group has a total of 183 drill rigs (149 diamond). DDH1’s earnings for FY22 increased by 14%, while EBITDA gained 10% over FY21. In late 2023, DDH1 Limited announced that it will reshape the industry again by merging with Perenti.

Orbit Garant Drilling has operations in North and South America and Africa. In FY22, the company achieved 1 356 033 m (4 448 927 ft) from diamond drilling and another 457 970 m (1 502 526 ft) through RC. These results mark an increase of ≈10% from 2021. Orbit Garant Drilling’s fleet was 217 rigs with 199 dedicated to diamond drilling and 18 to RC. These numbers were smaller than in 2021, because of a fleet upgrade, where six older rigs were retired from the fleet, and three new ones were purchased. Revenue for FY22 (ended on June 30 2022) was a record CAD 195.5 million, signifying a 19.7% increase from FY21.

For 2022, Foraco International reported 1 017 485 m (3 3382 05 ft) achieved through diamond drilling and 393 348 m (1 290 512 ft) for RC. The result for diamond drilling represents ≈5% increase from 2021. The company fleet consists of 302 drill rigs. For FY22 (ended Dec. 31), Foraco reported a 23% increase in revenue and significantly higher profitability compared to FY21. The company’s operations have grown the most in South America, as demand for drilling services has increased tremendously in the region.

Explomin Perforaciones is among the largest companies in Latin America. In 2022, they achieved 604 194 m (1 982 264 ft) through diamond drilling. This result represents a decrease of less than 4% from 2021. The company’s fleet, however, has increased to 107 rigs (101 diamond). Explomin has reported working on 26 diamond and four RC drilling projects in 2022.

Hy-Tech Drilling achieved 594 422 m (1 950 203 ft) through diamond drilling in 2022; a decrease of less than 2% from the previous year. The company’s fleet has grown significantly to 69 diamond drill rigs from 46 in 2021. Furthermore, Hy-Tech’s number of projects has more than doubled to 35. Hy-Tech Drilling also reported excellent revenue of CAD 124.7 million for 2022. Read Coring’s interview with Harvey Tremblay, Chairman of Hy-Tech Drilling, here.

For 2022, Canadian contractor Forages Rouillier Drilling reported a decrease in meters achieved through diamond drilling to 582 769 m (1 911 972 ft). While this is a double-digit decrease compared to the results from 2021, the company has increased the number of diamond drill rigs to 60 (50 in operation; 10 on standby). Read Coring’s interview with Mario Rouillier, President of Groupe Rouillier, here.

Geodrill and their subsidiary in South America Recon Drilling reported 407 103 m (1 335 640 ft) achieved through diamond drilling in 2022. The results for RC drilling are 942 410 m (3 091 896 ft). Although the meterage for both diamond and RC is lower compared to 2021, Geodrill has a larger fleet – 76 drills (70 diamond/multipurpose and six RC), drastically more projects (48 vs 25), and has reported back-to-back record fiscal years. Read Coring’s interview with Geodrill’s CEO, Dave Harper, here.

Capital Drilling achieved 368 958 m (1 210 492 ft) through diamond drilling in 2022. Of these, 190 591 m (625 299 ft) were through underground diamond drilling. The results represent a significant increase from 2021 driven by major contract renewals. Capital had 15 projects and 57 rigs. For FY22 (ended March 2023), the drilling division contributed USD 209 million in revenue; a 21% growth from FY21. The company’s rig utilization also increased to 79%.

This year, Team Drilling is celebrating its 15th anniversary and over 2960 days without a loss time injury. These achievements come on the back of a strong 2022 with 210 000 m (688 976 ft) achieved through diamond drilling, a fleet of over 40 rigs (24 diamond), and 13 diamond drilling projects across Canada.

One of the biggest Turkish contractors, Ortadoğu Drilling, reported 193 249.7 m (634 021 ft) achieved through diamond drilling for 2022. The company services the Eurasian region with its in-house-manufactured 35 drill rigs (29 diamond), and it is one of the few contractors that can produce everything required for a drilling operation. Ortadoğu Drilling had 23 diamond drilling projects last year.

Hall Core Drilling is the only contractor in this list with one project – the platinum mine in Limpopo, South Africa. In 2022, the company achieved 161 331.51 m (529 302 ft) through diamond drilling; a tremendous increase of nearly 60% from 2021, fueled by the expansion of drilling operations in Limpopo. As a result, Hall Core’s fleet more than doubled to 35 diamond drill rigs. Read Coring’s interview with Ignus Storm, COO of Hall Core, here.

Brazilian contractor DrillGeo has achieved 124 629.25 m (408 889 ft) through diamond drilling and 9325.12 m (30 594 ft) by RC in 2022. The company is a new entry into Coring’s statistics, boasts a fleet of 36 rigs (34 for diamond drilling) and had 14 diamond drilling and one RC project.

We would like to thank all of the companies that have participated!