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Improving safety outcomes in exploration drilling

05 JULY 2024

Innovation and technology can play an important role in improving our safety performance and unlocking value.

Across the resources sector, manual and repetitive rod handling in exploration drilling work can carry the risk of injury to hands, shoulders, back, wrists and elbows. 

In FY24, our exploration team identified an opportunity to trial an automated, hands-free rod handling system prototype. The Evolution Drill Rig prototype, operated by contract partner DDH1 Drilling, aims to improve safety performance without reducing productivity by removing the manual rod handling process during drilling. The prototype is compatible with existing drill rigs and does not require custom-built drill rigs to use. 

Through Innovate32, our approach to better enable innovation at South32, funding was granted for our exploration team to initiate a twelve-month trial of the prototype at the Jessica and Cararra exploration projects in the Northern Territory, Australia, where we are in Farm-in Agreements with Encounter Resources Limited. 

The trial was a success and in FY25 we will look to deploy the system on other South32 exploration projects and across our operations.