How does a No-code Drill Hole Logger App work?

By
Shariq Ansari
February 20, 2023
5 mins to read

Drill Hole Logging is one of the most crucial processes in determining the effectiveness of your mining operations. What makes or breaks your operations is consistency in recording, gathering, and managing data throughout various stages, from marking your first collar to analyzing the lithology of your samples. The drill hole logging process is extensive and it involves examining numerous geological features and characteristics of the rock formations encountered. The process typically covers several parts, which are described below:

  1. The logging process begins with a detailed description of the geological features and characteristics. This includes descriptions of the type of rock, its texture, color, or grain size.
  2. The next part involves identifying and describing any minerals that are present in the formations.
  3. Geologists then analyze fractures and other structural features. This includes calculating the orientation, and spacing and assessing the potential for fluid flow through the fractures.
  4. Once the logging is complete, the data collected is analyzed and interpreted to provide a comprehensive understanding of the geological characteristics of the drill hole. This may involve using software to generate 3D models, or comparing data collected from multiple drill holes to identify larger geological patterns and trends.

Thus, it cannot be understated how integral logging is for guiding decision-making related to progressing mineral exploration, mining, and other activities. So, despite its extensiveness and importance, why is it that a lot of companies carry out the process on physical logs, unmanageable spreadsheets, or legacy applications? In 2023, these mediums not only create an unquantifiable hassle for businesses but also put them at a serious disadvantage against their competitors. Apart from catalyzing human errors, these solutions make mining businesses lose out on a lot of unrealized potential. Although extensive in scale, today, drill hole logging and its constituent set of processes can very easily be digitized end-to-end, so that miners no longer have to worry about where and how to manage all their data. Digital solutions like Grid go one step further to create their platform on the concept of citizen development, which allows less tech-savvy industries like mining to automate all their processes without having to worry about the coding and whatnot.

So what does Grid's mining platform bring to the table? With the objective of minimizing human involvement in data handling, and optimizing their contribution to day-to-day operations, Grid unifies every process carried out in a mining project in one single place. So, all of your drill hole processes and data are collected via Grid, stored and aggregated on Grid, managed by Grid, and analyzed via Grid. This means miners no longer have to rely on any other equipment apart from their mobile phones for recording and tracking mining operations. For drill hole logging, we have created a specialized set of pre-built applications that cover the following list of processes:

Collars

Collars refer to the starting points of drill holes, i.e., the locations on the ground where a drill rig is set up to extract minerals or explore an area's geology. Drill hole collars are typically marked and identified with a specific GPS location or other surveying methods. This allows drillers to pinpoint the drill rig at the desired location and orientation. Collars are also important for recording drill hole information, such as the location, depth, orientation, and other relevant data. This is then used to create detailed maps of the area's geology, estimate the mineralization, and plan future operations.

The Collars template is the first process in the Drill Hole Management System, and users can instantly record and collate data about the:

  1. Project and Drill Hole Details
  2. Easting and Northing coordinates
  3. Reduced Level (RL) of Collar
  4. Planned Depth for Drilling
  5. GPS Location of Collar

With the foundational data all recorded and stored accurately, this data will now be accessed by the platform to set up the next processes in line. Users also have access to a collars dashboard that showcases the geographical representation of all the collars across multiple projects.  

Survey

All the information from the previous application is now used to conduct surveys to properly determine the position, direction, and inclination of a drilled hole, to accurately map the location of mineral deposits, and to plan further exploration or mining activities. Conducted using specialized equipment such as inclinometers and gyroscopes, the process involves inserting these instruments into the drill hole and measuring parameters like the azimuth (horizontal angle), dip (vertical angle), and depth.

The survey data might then be processed to create detailed 3D maps of the underground geology and mineral deposits. This map helps guide further mining activities, as well as estimates the size and quality of the mineral resource. This is essential in ensuring that resources are extracted efficiently with minimal environmental and financial risks. But for surveys to really provide the aforementioned benefits, they need to be carried out with accuracy and precision. This involves faultless data collection and subsequent management for analysis. As part of their digital transformation initiative, mining companies may invest in complex 3D tools, but overlook solidifying the very foundation itself - survey data integrity.

Grid's pre-built digital forms tackle this problem by enabling mining engineers to seamlessly record the following with a few clicks:

  1. Drill Hole Depth
  2. Azimuth Angles (Magnetic North and True North)
  3. Dip
  4. Survey Method and Instrument
  5. Surveyor details

All the survey data is instantly tabulated and accessible for automated report generation so that the management can track the quality and progress of surveys with complete visibility.

Drilling

The survey data is utilized by Grid's Drilling Tracker to monitor the progress and performance of drilling activities. It uses real-time data from drill holes to provide insights into the depth, recovery percentage, and other details that can then be assessed to approve the drilling operations to continue. By providing real-time feedback on the progress, the tracker can help to identify potential problems or issues and allow operators to make adjustments as needed.

Companies working with multiple drilling rigs or sites also have the liberty to monitor each of them simultaneously on the very same template. As Grid minimizes the need for multiple solutions, all the data collected here is instantly converted into visualized graphs and charts, along with automated reports. The Drilling Log template on Grid takes care of all these necessities in the background for geologists so that they can efficiently utilize their time for analysis. The template keeps a real-time record of the following data:

  1. Project and Drill Hole Details
  2. Tenement ID
  3. Drilling Depth Intervals
  4. Sampling Recovery and Recovery Percentage
  5. Sample Run
  6. Approval button for Managers

Decision-makers don't need to wait for hours and days for the data to be ready to assess it and send their approval. Everything happens smoothly then and there round the clock.

Lithology

Users can progress down the workflow to record the lithology of the rock formations encountered during drilling. This is critical for understanding the geology of an area, and for identifying the presence and location of mineral deposits. Drill hole lithology is determined through visual inspection and analysis of the rock samples obtained during drilling. The samples are examined by a geologist, for their type, texture, color, and other physical properties, and this information is recorded in a drill hole log. The sampling process is demanding because the slightest errors here can lead to irregular findings that affect the overall operations. This is where the power of a drill-hole data management platform is truly exhibited as multiple types of data are aggregated in an intelligent and user-friendly way. On top of this, Grid continues to update KPIs in the background as the information is collected. The Lithology template covers a comprehensive list of physical and chemical characteristics including:

  1. Drill Hole Depth intervals where rock samples are collected
  2. Rock Strata
  3. Lithology Codes
  4. Sample Colors and Texture  
  5. Regolith
  6. Weathering
  7. Oxidation
  8. Hardness
  9. Grain-size
  10. Image upload for validation

Sampling

Rock samples extracted from the drill hole are analyzed to determine the characteristics and properties of the rock formations being explored. Usually, a cylindrical rock core is extracted from the drill hole using a diamond-tipped drill bit. This core sample is then analyzed in a laboratory to determine its mineral content, structure, and other physical properties. By analyzing drill hole samples, geologists can characterize the composition, structure, and other properties of the rock formations being explored. The Sampling template contains a list of customizable criteria to categorize and store all your findings efficiently with a few clicks:

  1. Sampling Depth Interval
  2. Sample ID, Type, Size, Method, Category
  3. Core Size
  4. Image and Comment upload for further info

Mineralizations

The drill hole mineralization tracker records the presence of valuable mineral deposits within rock formations during drilling. The type of minerals found could range from precious metals to base metals and even rare earth elements. The identification and characterization of mineralizations are conducted by geologists, who analyze the rock samples for mineral content, and structure. Drill hole mineralizations can vary widely in terms of size, shape, and quality. Their economic value is determined by various factors, including the abundance and quality of the mineral deposits, the cost of extracting and processing the minerals, and the market demand for the minerals. When the mineralization data is collected on Grid, it can be analyzed to derive conclusions about the aforementioned factors in play. Utilizing the Drilling Cost Tracker and the Sales Tracker, you get a thorough understanding of the economic viability of your drill hole. So what does the Mineralization track?

  1. Sampling Depth Interval
  2. Mineral Name, Percentage, Intensity, Type, Alteration
  3. Image and Comment upload for further info

Structure

Drill hole structure monitoring is used to analyze the distribution of geological structures such as faults, joints, and veins within rock formations. It involves the measurement and recording of structural data from the drill core, including the orientation, spacing, and size of these structures. Structure information helps help geologists and mining engineers better understand subsurface geology and rock properties. This optimizes drilling and excavation plans by identifying areas of the rock formations that are more or less favorable for exploration and mining. Keeping a faultless record of the geophysical features of the samples is a top priority for exploration companies, and going SaaS is the only solution as you need the ability of modern computing to access and use this data instantly whenever required.

  1. Sampling Depth Interval
  2. Structure Type
  3. Dip and Dip Direction
  4. Rock Infill Mineralization
  5. Alpha - Beta - Gamma angles
  6. Structural Tool
  7. Image and Comment upload for further info

Orientation

Finally comes the Orientation template which monitors the direction and angle of the drill hole, and is important because irregularities here seriously affect the data accuracy. If a drill hole is not oriented correctly, it may miss the target mineral deposit and fail to provide a comprehensive profile of the area.

There are several factors that can influence the choice of drill hole orientation, including the geology of the area, the depth of the target mineral deposit, and the type of mineral being targeted. Commonly used drilling orientations include vertical drilling, angled drilling, and directional drilling, where the drill hole is deliberately steered to follow a specific geological feature or to intersect a known mineral deposit. To ensure all necessary details for successful orientation results, miners can make use of the industry-tested criteria that cover:

  1. Sampling Depth Interval
  2. Orientation Quality
  3. Deviance
  4. Line Type
  5. Image and Comment upload for further info

All the above processes and their respective templates combine to form a Drill Hole Logger System on Grid. Now, all your log data is recorded and maintained along a single source of truth, which results in accurate and comprehensive data analysis. Mining and mineral exploration firms can now use the time they would have spent manually performing these tasks to make the best decisions for scaling their revenue and operations. With the ever-increasing competition in the market post-Covid and the advent of Mine 4.0, it's now expected of businesses to use accurate and reliable tools to collect and record every log involved in their drilling operations. This is the only way to ensure that your drill hole is exploited to its maximum potential.

If you’d like to speak with an expert to learn more about how to set up an automated end-to-end Drill Hole Logging System to turn your drill operations agile, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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Shariq Ansari
Digital Marketeer
“Using Grid to track drill program progress and day to day expenditures has allowed VR Resources to make better decisions more quickly. The highly customizable and elegant interface allows me to track and manage all aspects of our field work and it’s clear after just a few weeks that the possibilities are nearly endless. Cost tracking estimates were consistently within expected variance of invoices received giving me further confidence in managing agile drill programs. Further the development team and customer support have been top notch!”
Justin J. Daley
PGeo, MSc, Vice President Exploration
VR Resources
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