HomeDiamonds & GemstonesEnsuring a successful diamond core drilling programme

Ensuring a successful diamond core drilling programme

The only thing consistent about licensing and permitting is how inconsistent and variable it is from place to place. Laws, regulations, permits, licensing, and requirements can be different based on the country, province, city, and land ownership.

Consequently, there is a significant gray area when discussing the broader topic of licensing and permitting to help ensure a successful diamond core drilling project.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 5, 2020
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Designing and planning a drilling project can be a complex exercise.  Many risk factors should be considered to mitigate issues that could impact productivity and/or budgets.

Some of these factors include permitting and licensing which could ultimately impede the progress and success of the project.

After careful planning, there is a healthy amount of cautious optimism that everything has been properly addressed and planned for, however, there is always that small chance something was missed.

Mistakes or missteps can be costly if your project doesn’t have everything in place when it comes to licensing and permitting.

While it doesn’t happen often, paying a drilling contractor stand-by rates waiting for a project that’s been scheduled, but not properly authorised or permitted takes money from the project itself.

How much more exploration could have been achieved with the money lost by paying for services and support that cannot move forward because a project is delayed on a technicality – usually paperwork?

There’s a risk of reputation as well. Costly mistakes are not great for anyone’s career or a company’s reputation regardless of the jurisdiction.


When planning a drilling project, it is highly recommended that you ensure all license and permit requirements are met before the drill crew and necessary equipment mobilises.

Boart Longyear therefore maintains working relationships with local consulting and engineering firms as well as government agencies and you should too.

Meanwhile, drill pad layout can be just as critical to a safe, smooth, and successful drilling programme. A drill pad setup where safety or productivity is compromised can result in wasted expense and possibly lead to an accident.

Not having permits with the right amount of surface disturbance for the project is a risk that can be mitigated with communication. A miscalculation in required disturbance area can lead to holes being removed from the scope of the project to remain in compliance with regulators.

Working diligently with all stakeholders in the permitting application process helps ensure the exploration/project teams and the environmental/permitting teams are on the same page.

A simple oversight or misunderstanding can possibly delay site mobilisation or start-up. Ideally, these conversations should happen early in the planning stages of the drilling programme.

Boart Longyear can assist with equipment specifications in order to prepare the proper size drill pads and access roads. That way, a budget estimate for all aspects of the work can be adequately prepared to complete a project safely and effectively.

One of the biggest challenges of licensing and permitting for a diamond core drilling project is timing. Depending on workload and resources, government entities are not typically known for their speed.

Early planning and working with experts can ensure the timing of licensing and permitting doesn’t affect your project start date. Obtaining most permits and licenses takes longer than expected in most cases. Proper planning and early submission to agencies are highly recommended.


Boart Longyear, if asked, can direct clients to a number of qualified groups in order to plan and help permit their drilling programmes before sending out requests for proposals and also works closely with a variety of consulting groups for clients that are in need of expert and sometimes urgent support.

AUTHOR: Thomas Feehan, business development manager at Boart Longyear

Feehan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology, a Master’s Degree in Hydrogeology, and a Master’s Degree in Business.

He has 30 years of experience in mining with 26 of those years specialising in drilling programmes for lithium brines, mineral exploration, geotechnical/slope stability investigations, mining-related hydrogeology, mine dewatering, water supply and water disposal.

He has successfully managed significant drilling programs in Asia, North America, Central America, and South America.