January 17, 2018

Getting the most from drill rods

Exploration drills


Premature wear and tear and unplanned expenditure to address the problem are a common occurrence with drill rods. African Mining Brief’s Jimmy Swira had a transatlantic telephone interview with Brenda Hamilton of Atlas Copco Exploration Products Division Canada, one of the leading organisations in the provision of drilling technology, to find how this problem can be managed.  

AMB: What challenges do end users face with drill rods used in the harsh mining environment? Could this be due to prohibitive costs or low level of awareness?

 AC: The life expectancy of drill rods is directly proportional to their care and handling. Rods should always be stored properly both when at a drill site as well as when they are stored for future use. This includes the use of proper thread grease to avoid corrosion and storage racks that are designed to adequately support the rods when they are not in use, thus ensuring straightness.

During use, it is of paramount importance to use a high quality grease as recommended by the manufacturer. Taking the time to clean, inspect the threads and properly grease the rods will definitely extend the rod life. Inspections should include the following:

  1. Ensure the rod has the correct thread. Some thread designs are close in design but offer different operational characteristics. Rods in a string should all be identical and it is wise not to match rods from different manufacturers as there may be slight differences in manufacturing and tolerances that may have a negative effect.
  2. Look for obvious signs of damage. This can include dents, excessive wear, straightness, and clean the threads of any dirt, rust, ice etc. It is important to check the box and pin ends for cracks as well.

In short, take care of your rods and they will take care of you.

AMB: What features of reliable exploration drill rods do

you recommend as experts in the area?

AC: It is important to select a drill rod that best suites the application. All should be constructed from high quality steel to ensure maximum corrosion protection and wear resistance. In addition, the box and pin ends should be heat treated. Some rods are designed with threads that focus on deeper applications and as such have greater torque capacity as well as pull back and can minimize hole deviation. Others have threads that actually offer greater joint flexibility and are well suited for wedging operations. All rods should be manufactured to exacting tolerances to ensure longevity. Simply put, choose a rod that is designed for the depth of hole you are required to drill as well as conditions in the hole you expect to encounter.

AMB: What are some of the latest innovations in exploration specific drill rods that you can share with our readers? What difference, if any, do they bring to exploration tasks?

AC: Without revealing any of our current research and development projects, we at Atlas Copco can say that as a manufacturer of high quality drill rods, our engineering team are always investigating material specification, heat treatment applied and thread design in an effort to maximise performance and reliability.

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