Wednesday, 8 February 2023

In collaboration with leading global mining company Anglo American, MinEx CRC has completed a 12-hole 5000m drilling program with its Coiled Tubing (CT) drilling platform, demonstrating that the system can be applied to real-world undercover exploration scenarios.


Developed in collaboration with industry partners Anglo American, BHP, Epiroc, LKAB Wassara, South 32, and the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) the CT platform has the potential to revolutionise mineral exploration drilling through deep cover rocks, providing a cheaper, faster, safer and greener alternative.


During the drilling program, the CT rig delivered high-quality cuttings samples at one-metre intervals through the cover rocks and then switched to coring mode, delivering between three and nine metres of basement drill core in each hole. These holes recovered Proterozoic basement rocks beneath 400 to 450m of cover material.


Anglo American’s Regional Head of Discovery – Africa, Europe, Australasia, Martin Roberts, said. “The CT system was suited to safely and effectively map lithology and alteration at the top of basement across a broad portion of our tenements in Queensland”.


“The savings in consumables and reduced surface disturbance were a real plus for this drilling campaign. This trial has helped us to re-think how we will continue to explore rapidly beneath deep cover rocks with cleaner and greener methods, in line with our FutureSmart Mining™ approach.”


The Anglo American program allowed the MinEx CRC drill crew to improve the performance of the entire drilling operation as they became more familiar with the innovative CT drilling platform. In addition, the MinEx CRC crew developed a procedure to ensure hole closure by cementing each hole from basement to surface, through the coiled tubing, after drilling.


On average, the drill holes were completed in eight shifts, including; mobilisation between holes, set up, collar and case, rotary mud and hydraulic percussion drilling, core drilling, hole survey, gamma log, cementing, and pack down.


Drilling through cover in rotary mud and percussion mode, the CT rig consistently achieved penetration rates well over 100 metres per twelve-hour shift, including a new record for the CT rig of 232 metres in a single shift.


“It’s no secret that the mining industry needs to reduce its environmental impact and improve safety standards on an international scale,” MinEx CRC CEO Andrew Bailey said.


“Developing low carbon technologies such as wind turbines, electric vehicles, and solar panels require critical minerals to be extracted from the ground.


“This technology provides a cheaper, faster, safer and cleaner alternative for companies to explore for these minerals more effectively through deep cover.”


The CT drilling platform occupies a drill site of 20 x 20 metres, significantly smaller than required for conventional drill rigs in a comparable drilling scenario. Average water consumption during the Anglo American program was approximately 60 litres per metre, less than 1/8th of the water consumption of conventional rigs in the same drilling scenario. Average diesel consumption was approximately three litres per metre, producing significantly lower CO2 emissions than conventional rigs in the same drilling scenario.


All fluids are passed through the MinEx CRC-designed Hydraulic Processing System (HPS), where they are cleaned of cuttings, recycled and returned to the drill hole. The MinEx CRC CT drilling platform relies almost exclusively on a bespoke drilling additive, “CTrol”, developed by Curtin University researchers at MinEx CRC.


Fluid management operates in a semi-autonomous mode, using the MinEx CRC “iFluid” system, supervised remotely by our research team located in Perth. The combination of CTrol and iFluid ensures a stable borehole, typically with less than 50m of casing required at the top-of-hole, efficient cuttings return and minimal fluid loss to the formation.


MinEx CRC and Schramm (a global drilling manufacturing, service and support company with headquarters in Australia and the USA) have agreed upon a commercialisation agreement to build the CT rig and associated Hydraulic Processing System.


Subject to orders for CT Systems being placed, Schramm will manufacture all CT rigs in Adelaide, South Australia.



  • Anglo American
  • BHP
  • Epiroc
  • LKAB Wassara
  • South 32


  • Curtin University
  • Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MIRWA)
  • University of South Australia



Download the CT drilling system brochure here.



MinEx CRC is the world’s largest mineral exploration collaboration with a 10-year life and bringing together Industry, Government and Research Organisations with $220M of funding comprising of:
• $50M cash from the CRC Program
• $41M cash from geological surveys and industry
• $51M non-staff in-kind
• $78M or 311FTE staff in-kind



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