Iron oOre is the key raw material used to make steel. As demand for steel continues to increase, the demand for diamond drilling has also increased. Many of these deposits are found in the areas of Shefferville, Quebec, as well as Eastern Labrador/Newfoundland in Canada. Drilling in these iron ore formations provides many challenges – from working in harsh weather to very hard ground conditions.
Typical ground formations in this region are 70 percent iron ore, with bands of chert that are very hard and abrasive. These conditions require a very free cutting bit to stay sharp and achieve good production, as well as an abrasion-resistant matrix to attain acceptable bit life.
The diamond bits that Quebec-based Downing Drilling had been using were not providing the life they needed to be competitive, and they were not staying sharp in the hard formations. Matt Mactavish, a foreman for Downing Drilling, relates, “With our previous bits, our drillers never were able to achieve the proper torque due to the bit continually polishing. The only method we had to sharpen the bits was to shut off the water, which resulted in many bits burning into the formation.”
The crew turned to 09UMX bits from Boart Longyear, and achieved an average 200 percent increase in life over the other bits in the same ground conditions. In addition, the bits did not require extreme measures to stay sharp, and the drillers were able to maintain the proper torque on the rigs, while sustaining a continuously sharp bit. As a result, Downing Drilling’s exploration operations have become more efficient and profitable.