Skip to the content

Geotechnical Drilling for the Expansion of Road Infrastructures

In May 2021, site supervisor Elija Mahlangu and the Geomech Africa team were dispatched to the Limpopo province in South Africa to assist with geotechnical drilling for the expansion of road infrastructures in the area. The team were required to drill for the cutting of the mountain, for the quarry and culverts, and for the bridges. With 70 drill locations and an estimated total drilling of 832 meters, the crew knew they had their work cut out for them.

Before drilling could commence, our supervisor was tasked to liaise with the community-based business forum. This was a necessary step in the process as our team needed to inform the community of the work being conducted in their area. This also gave the local community the opportunity to empower their residents by assisting the crew on site. Once this was finalised, our team was ready to commence drilling.

For most of the locations, the drilling went smoothly. However, our team did face a few unforeseen challenges. One of the first challenges was finding solutions on how the crews and the rigs would access some of these hard-to-reach drill locations. At some locations, the team had to hire an excavator and local labourers to assist with clearing away the brush to get to the specified drill locations. On another occasion, the team had to dismantle one of the YWE D45 rigs so that the individual parts could be carried up the hill to the drill location. For the engine to reach the destination, Elija and his team constructed a stretcher-like carrier out of steel frames that would allow an 8-man crew to carry it uphill. As one can imagine, this was a very time-consuming exercise that needed to be done. Once all the parts were at the location, the team had to reassemble the rig for drilling to commence. Where the terrain was too rocky or steep, the team had to use alternate routes to avoid dangerous situations. This also proved to be very time-consuming.

It is essential that there is water available at each drill location. Because of inconsistencies in the terrain, It proved difficult to get the water supply to the drill position as the truck couldn’t reach the required elevation. Previously water would be pumped through a pipeline system using a centrifugal pump. However, the centrifugal pump couldn’t generate enough pressure to pump the water to the specific drill position because the truck was either too far away or too low in elevation. Being quite far away from the nearest city centres, our team had to think on their feet to solve this problem. They found a higher elevation that was easier for the truck to access. They then extended the pipeline and incorporated a gravity feed system so that the water could reach the drill position.

Considering the challenging drilling conditions, Elija and the Geomech Africa team were able to successfully complete the project with a total drill depth of 780 meters within a span of 4 months with no reported injuries.

“It was a challenging project on a whole different level. A lot of solutions needed to be found for this project. But I’m happy to report that it went well and that the client was very satisfied.”
– Elija Mahlangu