Diamond drilling performance at Ok Tedi Mining’s near-mine exploration lease Townsville has been progressing exceptionally well. With the guidance and use of a specific mud program created by Tiger Fluids, the current drilling contractor Deepcore Drilling (PNG) has drilled 12 consecutive holes with minimal downhole issues and excellent core recovery. This continued drilling success had previously been unattainable.

Ok Tedi Mining’s exploration superintendent Robert Smillie credited the mud program designed by Tiger Fluids as one of the key drivers for allowing drill holes to reach or exceed planned hole target depths. The exploration department believe it was Tiger Fluids engagement up front, evaluating the ground conditions and developing a site specific formula, that were critical to delivering the required drilling outcomes.

Despite highly broken ground conditions in places, drilling has had excellent sample return with minimal sample loss together with ongoing hole stability. It is noted that this is quite an achievement for what has historically been a very tricky place to drill successfully.

“Much time and preparation went into creating the correct mud program for the Townsville site. We performed offsite laboratory tests and several initial onsite and follow-up inspections to ensure the correct product and procedures were used before the contract commenced. We used a precise mud program which is easy to follow and administer, and due to the remoteness of the site many different factors were taken into consideration. We are very happy with the drilling sample retrieval and hole completion rates,” says Tiger Fluids’ Australian and PNG manager Rhys Clarke.

He says given the contract is for a helicopter portable rig and drilling occurs on the side of some very steep mountains in the Star Mountain region, limited space is a serious issue.  A small mixing tank with zero water return is used and a fast mixing high yield mud is required. The Tiger Fluids muds (Tiger Gel, Tiger Trol and Tiger Coremax) were found to be the best mixing and since time is important, with Tiger Fluids products five minutes is all it takes for the muds to be fully hydrated, ready to do a great job down the hole.

“This ground out here is some of the worst I have seen in a long time but between having some of the best national drillers and the Tiger Fluids muds, we have had a very successful drilling program to date,” says Deepcore’s site supervisor Steven Fisher.

Tiger Fluids also customized a mud program to suit the drilling conditions in the pit at Ok Tedi for Deepcore. This mud system recently assisted Deepcore to reach a new production record of more than 600 metres per rig, per month which had previously been impossible. Additionally, lot of time onsite had and continues to be spent on training and providing back-up support which greatly assists in the recovery and metre rates seen.

Tiger Fluids’ says its unique formula for Tiger Trol and its specialty additive Tiger Coremax, have provided the drilling operation with an excellent formula for core recovery as well as borehole stability in poor ground conditions. Tiger Trol has exceptional viscosifying and filtration control properties and combining this with Tiger Coremax, which forms a low permeability membrane on the bore walls and core, it has provided a system which is extremely simple and effective for the drilling crews.

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