Can you provide an overview of Boart Longyear’s presence in Nevada?
Boart Longyear has been present in Nevada for a long time, and part of the reason why we are headquartered in Salt Lake City is its proximity to this state. We have a wide range of clients, including producers like Nevada Gold Mines, Robinson Nevada Mining Company, and Coeur Rochester, as well as exploration companies such as Allegiant Gold and Scorpio Gold. We provide all kinds of drilling services, from rotary to surface coring and underground work. We also have a small distribution center for our products in Elko to serve our clients. Increasingly, Nevada is becoming a favorable location for the implementation of our new technologies to address the state’s unique geology.
How have you seen the demand for your drilling products and services evolve?
We have experienced a significant increase in the demand for our services. RC is one of the first types of drilling to see increasing demand when the market picks up, and we are currently fully employed within this area in our Nevada operations. We are also observing an immense uptick in surface coring and underground drilling. Lastly, we have seen increased demand for our large rotary drilling, which is very efficient in dealing with water management in Nevada mines.
Can you tell us about your Geological Data Services (GDS) and how they are being implemented in Nevada?
Our GDS are focused on redefining the future of mineral exploration through innovative and emerging technologies. Within GDS, we have developed TruCore for core orientation, as well as down-hole survey technologies including TruShot and TruGyro. We are also introducing the TruSub Drilling System, which measures the drilling parameters on rigs and provides real-time information to understand drilling behavior and contribute to future automation. In addition, we have a suite of tools and services called TruScan, designed to provide same-day continuous analysis of drill core or chips and quickly provide non-destructive, accurate, high-density elemental concentration data. We are currently in conversation with some of our customers in Nevada to implement this technology.
Ultimately, once all the data is collected from these tools, we will be able to combine it and develop a unified body of knowledge. This will be a huge milestone because all these datasets are currently kept separate in the industry.
Can you elaborate on Boart Longyear’s culture of safety?
Many of the technologies we have implemented, including TruScan, dramatically reduce the number of people on a drill site, providing clear advantages in a Covid environment. In addition, we have multiple new tools and products that improve rod handling and automated drilling, which simultaneously improve safety and productivity. In the future, we expect to see fully automated drilling and core handling.
How is the company dealing with the current shortage of skilled workers?
Our use of automated rod-handling systems is attracting more women to our drilling teams, since operators do not have to directly handle heavy rods. This is a win-win situation, as it contributes to a more diverse workforce and allows us to draw on a much larger pool of workers. Today, we have approximately 40 female drillers worldwide, predominantly in Latin America. Our number of female drillers in the US is growing rapidly.
Can you tell us about Boart Longyear’s workforce training initiatives?
Boart Longyear is the world’s largest drilling company, and how we train our people definitely contributes to this success. We have subject matter expert training where workers must go through several safety courses. We also partner with the University of Utah to provide leadership training for our employees worldwide through different modules. Having good leaders allows us to have numerous long service employees, and the more workers we can retain, the less people we have to hire and develop. That said, we have a cross-functional team dedicated to understanding the issues of attracting, retaining and developing new people in the workforce.
What were the reasons behind Boart Longyear’s recent recapitalization plan?
For a long time, we had an overleveraged balance sheet due to the industry’s downturn. We decided to undertake a recapitalization plan to substantially reduce our debt, strengthen the balance sheet, and enhance liquidity to support our operations and future growth. This has put us in a strong financial position just as we are getting some favorable tailwinds from the industry.