Indodrill builds its own rigs and provides exploration and mine-site drilling services from offices in Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Australia. Given its strong Asia-Pacific presence, you wouldn’t guess that drilling contractor Indodrill is managed by a through-and-through Scotsman. With the group’s expansion into the EMEA marketplace, however, Group Managing Director John Horne has had chance to do business much closer to home.
Indodrill’s newest office is in Alloa, located in the Central Lowlands of Scotland; it’s pretty close to Kincardine on Forth in Fife, John’s hometown. It’s this connection that led the predominantly Southeast Asian contractor to connect with the sonic drilling company that would open the door to the EMEA regions market.
John came across the Mulraney Group in early 2013, while reading at home in Singapore. “I like to keep up to date with Scottish news by reading what used to be my local newspaper, the Alloa Advertiser; and one day when I was reading this on my tablet I saw a story headlined, ‘Local Mulraney Group buys Boart Longyear’s sonic drilling division’,” he recalls.
“Indodrill were looking into sonic drilling at that time, and with this company being so close to my home village, it obviously got my attention. I thought that I’d better check the company out. Coincidentally, two months after that I was visiting Scotland, so I went and knocked on the company’s door and introduced myself. It took off from there.”
The EMEA joint venture
Mulraney Group is a Scottish consortium that owns a number of businesses, including Geosonic Drilling Limited. To begin with, Indodrill and the Mulraney Group formed a strategic alliance through which Indodrill could offer Geosonic’s sonic drilling services to its existing customer bases in Southeast Asia and Australia.
Almost a year later in May 2014, Indodrill and the Mulraney Group took their relationship further by forming a 50/50 joint venture that became Indodrill EMEA Limited, managed by the Mulraney Group from its headquarters in Alloa, Scotland.
The Mulraney Group provides project management, drilling staff, warehousing and maintenance facilities for the joint venture, while Indodrill provides diamond and reverse circulation (RC) drilling rigs, supplies and technical support.
“The greatest advantage of joining up with the Mulraney Group in Scotland is that it gives Indodrill a new platform from which to expand into the UK, Europe and eventually, the Middle East and Africa,” says John.
“Through Geosonic Drilling Limited the Mulraney Group has secured contracts in England, Germany, France and other European countries, giving it a solid platform in Europe already. The joint venture gives us the opportunity to explore these markets and promote our professional way of doing things – which we feel is the best in the southern hemisphere – throughout EMEA.”
Diversified drilling capabilities
Indodrill’s initial strategic alliance with the Mulraney Group remains unaffected by the EMEA joint venture, meaning Indodrill retains the ability to offer sonic drilling services through Geosonic Drilling.
“The alliance enables us to offer clients a wider range of services, including sonic drilling and overburden drilling in specialised areas,” explains John.
“Sonic drilling uses high-frequency vibratory forces to enable the recovery of high-quality, continuous core samples in situations where ground conditions would usually make core recovery difficult.”
Indodrill has specialised in greenfield exploration drilling since 1995, but has diversified its offering in recent years to include the types of drilling required on mine sites, including resource definition drilling, grade control drilling and horizontal drilling.
“Exploration drilling is still a large part of what we do and is included in a number of our current contracts, but we’re now trying to concentrate on mine-site drilling because it gives us greater security when fewer mining companies are doing exploration,” John explains.
“When market conditions are tough, as they are now, there is less exploration work because fewer junior mining companies are entering the market and major companies are choosing to focus on existing projects rather than spending cash to find new ones”
Drilling deep in challenging environments
A particular specialism of Indodrill’s is deep-hole exploration drilling, which it recently undertook at Indonesian projects owned by Tigers Realm Minerals and Barisan Gold Corporation (TSXV: BG). Both projects are located on the island of Sumatra, and presented challenging working conditions.
“The locations were very remote, which made it more difficult to bring in extra supplies and spare parts,” says John. “The ground conditions were also challenging – it’s well known that Indonesia has epithermal geology that makes it more difficult to drill deep mineral holes.”
Fortunately, Indodrill’s extensive experience in the region means it was well equipped to deal with these physical challenges, as well with the socio-political issues. The company has Indonesian drillers, supervisors and personnel that prevent language and cultural barriers from becoming a problem, and is accustomed to working closely with local government to overcome any differences.
Tigers Realm Minerals awarded Indodrill a contract in July 2013 to carry out deep-hole drilling in copper porphyries. “We brought in a specialised deep-hole rig that we developed ourselves and drilled down to 2,000 metres in challenging epithermal ground conditions,” John recalls.
“On that job we drilled holes that we believe were of record depth and width for that area. Tigers Realm was absolutely delighted with our performance.”
Indodrill began working with Barisan Gold in July 2013 and continues to today having brought a second deep-hole drilling rig to the site. The project has been very successful for both parties so far, giving Barisan Gold the results it wanted.
Over the past two decades Indodrill has built up an excellent reputation in Southeast Asia, particularly for its deep-hole expertise, strong professionalism and unsurpassed safety record. By the end of April this year it had achieved 6,500,000 man hours without lost-time injuries (LTI): splitting into more than 2.5 million man hours without LTI at its Indonesian operations, more than 2 million at its Philippines operations and almost 2 million at its Laos operations.
“That’s a fantastic achievement for us and we’re very proud of it,” comments John. “It’s a group achievement – the result of strong teamwork.” His greatest ambition for Indodrill is to reach a point where it is known internationally for offering “quality service, done safely”.
The immediate goal is to successfully expand into Europe, the Middle East and Africa through the new Indodrill EMEA operations. “Once we’ve established ourselves in those areas and gained a strong reputation – probably within the next two to five years – we will probably look for other areas in which we think our business would fit,” says John.
“Whether that’s South America, North America or other areas of Southeast Asia such as India and Pakistan – we’re keen to continue growing our global reach.”