How to run smooth drill programs as a Junior Explorer by using tech

Viking Mines Ltd is a Junior exploration company searching for high-grade gold deposits in Western Australia. Their First Hit project is located near Menzies in the West Australian Eastern Goldfields area. 

Managing Director and CEO Julian Woodcock leads the small but experienced Viking team. Julian brings leadership expertise from mining companies like Gold Road Resources, Evolution Mining and Gold Fields with him to the new Viking team. 

 

The challenge

Like all Junior Explorers, Viking operates in a high-risk, high-reward environment. Without the stability and cashflow of a producing mine to rely on, the company's success is determined by making a meaningful discovery. Funds are limited and every dollar needs to be invested wisely.

Julian knew the key to maximising the likelihood of success under these conditions was to follow an agile approach to the drill program. Making decisions on the fly to reflect real-time results would help Viking save valuable time and money in searching for the next ore body. 

Viking were running their operations using a combination of spreadsheets and pen and paper processes. The workflow captured the required data but couldn’t keep pace with the rig's speed, impeding time-sensitive decision-making. 

Further, because Viking only drill for some of the year, they need to rely on contractors to help run their drill programs and control costs. 

"Our contractors are great, but everyone brings a slightly different way of doing things with them to site," says Julian. 

As a small company, they didn't have a history of extensive processes and procedures to draw on when inducting contractors. This left them exposed to the risk of communication issues and missed opportunities that were critical to success. 

Julian was open to exploring any solution that could help Viking address these concerns. He had heard about CorePlan and knew of former colleagues who successfully implemented it. So he decided to jump in head-first and see if CorePlan could help Viking manage some of the challenges inherent to Junior exploration.  

 

Building a workflow from the ground up

"As soon as we started using CorePlan, we instantly gained a structured workflow that helped everyone stay on the same page. This made it much easier for the whole team to see what needed to happen and when," says Julian. "It also saved us a lot of time we would have had to spend developing a process ourselves."

Viking used CorePlan to bring together all aspects of their drill program into one tidy workspace. This included:

  • pre-drilling activities
  • drilling
  • post-drilling activities
  • sample dispatch management
  • cost tracking

and more.

This new single source of truth gave Julian the oversight he needed to track performance and manage his team through the end-to-end drilling workflow.

Using the project overview page on CorePlan, Julian and his Geology Manager could quickly see how the drill program was progressing daily. This page is a one-stop-shop for management to approve or reject plods, view the progress state of each hole and see a breakdown of rig time activities. 

The project overview page on CorePlan Exploration Hub

From this home page, Julian could quickly drill down into the specific data he needed to make timely decisions, such as cancelling or adding holes to the drill program.

This data was captured out in the field by Viking's drillers, who used a tablet equipped with the CorePlan mobile app to enter their daily drill reports (plods). The Viking team pre-loaded all hole data into the app so the drillers could easily follow the plan.

"We asked our First Hit drillers to use the CorePlan mobile app. They loved how easy it was to use," Julian shared. "Our entire team appreciated that all the costs and charges were automatically calculated using the drilling data. This made it really easy for us to see our accumulated and projected costs on a daily basis."

"For our drillers, it meant they had very little work to do when it was time for them to invoice us. All we needed to do was share the completed cost summary by rig report, and they used that to create the invoice."
Image reads: Viking Mines' favourite features: drill planning tool, cost summary reporting tool and sample dispatch tracking.

 

Viking found value in using CorePlan to manage their relationship with their drill contractor, but also for managing and delegating their Geo team’s pre and post-drilling activities. In particular, they valued the sample dispatch tools that helped bring a new level of oversight to the sampling lifecycle. 

Before using CorePlan, Viking relied on a manual spreadsheet system to track and manage each sample. Now, the Geo team can automate manual steps in this process and use QR codes to get notified when each sample reaches the lab.

Image demonstrates how samples register on the sample dispatch tracker using the QR code so you get notified when the sample reaches the lab.

"All of the labs have been really busy," reports Julian. "It's been reassuring to know exactly where we're at in the process."

 

What's next for Viking Mines?

Viking Mines completed their first round of drilling in December of 2021 and received the complete results from the lab in the second quarter of 2022. Now, the team are working on determining the next steps for the First Hit project as there are promising signs of further subsurface mineralisation awaiting discovery.

"As a Junior, we really value the flexibility of CorePlan's subscription model,” says Julian. “We can put (our subscription) on pause when we aren't actively drilling, but we won't lose all of our data so we can pick up where we left off when we're ready to start our next drill programme."

Join Viking Mines and be a part of mining's digital revolution. Start using CorePlan to run your drill programs today.

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