Boart Longyear sign sensor tech agreement with DET CRC

Boart Longyear has signed a commercialisation agreement with the Deep Exploration Technologies Co-operative Research Centre (DET CRC)for its in-hole sensor technology AutoSonde.

The technology has been developed by DET CRC participants Globaltech Corporation and Curtin University and provides geophysical logging information similar to that recorded by conventional wireline logging, "but with significant reduction in costs, inconvenience and risks involved," the DET CRC said.

AutoSonde works by being lowered inside drill rods to the bottom of the hole upon completion of drilling, after which the hole is geophysically logged as the rods are being pulled out of the hole, completely removing the needs for an entirely separate conventional wireline logging crew or additional rig time to log the hole.

It also removes much of the risk of hole collapse prior to or during logging.

The technology can also be combined with a survey tool so that geophysical information can be recovered at the same time as routine hole orientation is carried out.

Logging results are now delivered to the explorer as soon as the drill hole is completed.

Speaking on the agreement, DET CRC CEO professor Richard Hillis said the AutoSonde commercialisation with Boart Longyear is a major milestone in the CRC's history, and will act as a precursor for other technology being developed. 

"The AutoSonde agreement is the first of our three key pillar technologies to be commercialised, with the other two key pillar technologies – the Coiled Tubing (CT) Drill Rig and Lab-at-Rig top of the hole sending – in development and showing enormous promise," HIllis said.

The Coiled Tubing rig was launched in late 2013, which uses a continuous reel of tubing which eliminates the manual handling of drill rods, directly addressing many of the hand injury issues that arise during manual handling, while at the same time maximising the amount of time the bit is at the bottom of the hole.

The Lab-at-Rig analytical system, which was developed with Imdex and Olympus, provides geochemical and mineralogical information on drilling samples as they are recovered with the data will be uploaded to the internet for real-time remote access; helping explorers make better drilling decisions and, in due course, replace time consuming and expensive lab based assays of drilling samples.

Hillis added that its new technology – AutoSonde – "enables the collection of geophysical data while a hole is being drilled instead of the current method of having a specialist crew carry out the process once the drill rig has left, which previously added significant time, costs and risks to the process".

"The recorded data is available within minutes of drilling and can be sent around the world for immediate analysis; this represents a step change in the quality and amount of data the minerals industry can now capture."

The agreement with Boart Longyear is for a total count gamma sensor, with additional sensors such as magnetic susceptibility, induction, and spectral gamma still in development and to be offered separately for commercialisation.

The gamma sensor itself measures naturally occurring gamma radiation which is commonly used in mineral exploration to characterise different types of rock and alteration related to mineral deposits.

Boart Longyear products senior vice president Kent Hoots said the agreement is a key strategic decision for the company, and aids its expansion of its in-hole instrumentation product offering.

"The primary focus for the introduction of this technology will be mineral exploration, initially with diamond coring, but there will be additional opportunities for the introduction of the tool in reverse circulation and mud rotary drilling," Hoots said.

"The AutoSonde is an enormous step forward as a combined survey and gamma tool providing geophysical information at a lower cost than a traditional geophysical survey."

The tool is slated for release later this year.

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