Can you please introduce Geotec and provide a description of the range of drilling services that your company offers in Chile?

Geotec Boyles is a drilling company that currently holds around 30% of the Chilean drilling market. It operates as part of the Boytec Group, which also has a presence in other Latin American countries such as Peru, Mexico, and Ecuador. Geotec Boyles has a fleet of approximately 120 drills, providing a wide range of services including diamond core drilling, reverse circulation, horizontal drain holes, water wells for production and dewatering, as well as water well field management. We have been working with a number of high-profile mining operators in Chile such as BHP, Collahuasi, Anglo American, Antofagasta Minerals, Codelco, Peñoles, Barrick, and others.

Many companies have expressed concerns about the shortage of qualified drilling professionals to meet the growing demand. How is Geotec addressing this challenge?

Training professional drillers and helpers has been a major challenge for us given that this is not something that can be taught in high school or college. To tackle this challenge, we have implemented a drilling platform training center, where we train field personnel, simulating day and night shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just like in the field. However, it is not a quick process because of the high safety standards required by our industry. Geotec does not place field people on jobs unless they are completely certified to operate the equipment and demonstrate total compliance with procedures and policies. With adequate training, all contracts are currently being executed successfully.

How are innovations such as increased mechanization improving safety in the drilling process?

Geotec is at the forefront of drilling technology and equipment innovations. For example, we introduced and improved rod handlers to be completely automatic, eliminating contact between man, drill, and tools by 100%. This has greatly reduced the risk of hand injuries, which used to be a significant issue for companies in the drilling business. Additionally, we developed drilling fluids treatment plants to clean and reuse mud with systems like centri-cleaners and centrifuges, to separate solids from water, thus saving water usage. Another important innovation is the pressurized drilling cabin to protect our personnel from the weather, noise, dust, and other elements.

Can you discuss some of the standout mining projects that Geotec has worked on in Chile?

We have been involved in numerous significant projects in Chile. BHP has a vast drilling program that includes diamond drilling, reverse circulation, water wells, and drain holes for its Escondida mine. Our drilling contract at Escondida has been extended until 2027. Another very important long-term drilling contract for us is at the Collahuasi mine, where we provide diamond and RC drilling and water wells. We are also involved in a large project at Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic mine, where we currently have 15 diamond drills working. Finally, we have been working with Antofagasta Minerals for almost five years, and we have developed a strong working relationship.

Considering the high metals prices in the last two years, would you say that clients are now more concerned about quality instead of cost?

While the issue with prices is relative, it is important to note that although the copper price is high, costs for companies have also risen significantly. In Chile, like in many parts of the world, we are expecting inflation in 2022 to be above 10%. Clients are understanding because they face the same problem. Inflation affects salaries, fuel, equipment, drilling tools, and just about everything on a drilling operation. Another negative cost impact is the costs of freight, domestic and international sea freight prices.

You may also be interested in...