With a focus on new opportunities in the market and a strong commitment to training, a new multi-purpose drilling contractor servicing WA is building a foundation for a successful future. Jamie Wade writes.
Established in May 2020, Precision Drilling Australia (PDA) may be relatively new on the scene, but it has experience in managing director, Mathew Feeney, at its helm who has been drilling on and off for the past 10 years across the industry from geotechnical and environmental projects to exploration.
“The company has been in the making for a while, as we saw a gap in the geotechnical and environmental sectors which needed to be filled to provide consultant firms and mine sites with a
professional no-fuss drilling contractor,” he told Australasian Drilling.
“We are pretty big on training and bringing new people into the industry.”
– Precision Drilling Australia, Managing Director, Mathew Feeney
PDA provides multiple services from diamond coring to rotary flush, air drilling and everything inbetween. The contractor currently has 12 drill crew members comprising four drillers, eight
offsiders, an operations manager and two hands-on directors.
“We are pretty big on training and bringing new people into the industry,” Mathew said. “All of our staff get signed up for training when they start. They then go for their certifications and hopefully progress to Certificate III. We currently have seven staff conducting their Certificate II, two
doing their Certificate III and one doing their Certificate IV.”
PDA has three Hydrapower Scout Mark V drill rigs with a fourth on the way to meet demand. Two of the rigs are truck mounted and two are on tracks. A Hydrapower 850 is mounted on an 8 x 8 truck.
PDA’s areas of expertise are geotechnical and environmental projects and the contractor is targeting a niche market in tailings dams and instrument installation.
Reflecting on changes in the industry over the last decade Mathew said it was mainly around people. “The biggest change has come with the new generation coming into the sector,” he said. “There is a strong focus on finding that balance for staff with their work and home life, and retaining staff through the good times and the lean times. “From a technical point of view there’s a big push from the mining sector for hands free options on equipment. Safety is the priority.”
In a short space of time PDA has been involved in a large scale of jobs from 800m geotechnical breakthrough holes to major tailings dam investigations, as well as recently completing infrastructure projects around Midland Train Station in Perth and the new Causeway Footbridge project.
The tailings dam project was a particularly notable project for PDA with more than 50 Vibrating Wire Piezometers (VWP) installed over multiple dams in the South West. “Quality over quantity was demanded for this job,” Mathew said. “This client specifically asked for quality control measures which involved a full-time site supervisor. Each VWP was installed as per the client’s specifications with calculated measurements for grouting to ensure they were to the correct specification.”
PDA has recently been involved in a couple of high profile geotechnical environmental programs in the Perth region. These programs required 85 percent plus core recovery through sands and alluvial material with PQ diamond coring and short runs when needed to recover maximum core.
The contractor also recently installed monitoring wells with air development and grout re-instatement of holes through the Midland and Perth CBD. “We had great results with core recovery
and standard penetration testing along with undisturbed Shelby Tube sampling,” Mathew said.
The prospects are positive for PDA. “At the moment we are still in a steady growth period, but we are definitely on our way in Western Australia to being established as a go-to professional geotechnical drilling company, providing great data and information for clients,” he said.
“Our next big investment will definitely be happing soon and that would be a push into the sonic market to complement our standard drilling methods for those hard to recover conditions such as alluvial ground conditions, sands etc and to tackle and meet clients’ demands for greater data
In line with contractors across the industry, the biggest challenge for PDA is staff. “Finding multi-purpose geotechnical drillers is no easy feat and competing with some of the bigger players and
miners is always hard,” Mathew said.
“To meet this challenge we looked at our business model as a long-term investment bringing on young people in particular. This includes putting two offsiders in one crew to fasttrack learning
and make everyone’s life a lot easier on site for a smoother drilling operation.”
Mathew said there were several suppliers whose support he wished to acknowledge. “Definitely a big shout out to Richard Stickland and his team at Feaver Tools, Mark O’Neill at PGC Maintenance,
Cameron Fleming at Mudex and his team and Morris Wallis from HMR Drilling Supplies. Adam Wenn from Thomson Tech has also been a massive help with his broad knowledge of the drilling game.”
Article published in AUSTRALASIAN DRILLING AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2021.