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Exploration Rig Utilisation takes a dip

Jul 26, 2023

The numbers are in and collated for our 2023 Drill Rig Utilisation Survey.

The summary numbers reveal exploration and waterwell drilling have seen a reduction in rigs operating, whereas geotech and environmental drilling has remained the same.

The reduction in exploration drilling was expected based on feedback from members so far over 2023, and the reduction in expenditure detailed in the quarterly ABS statistics.

  • Exploration rig numbers are 636 operating, and 194 idle for a utilisation of 77%.
  • Waterwell rig numbers are 191 operating, with 91 idle for a utilisation of 68%.
  • Geotechnical rig numbers are 278 operating, and 100 idle for a utilisation of 74%.

ADIA normally receives more responses from members who primarily do exploration drilling, and we have plotted the numbers on the graph below which shows activity over a 15-year period.

Personnel Shortage
The number of additional people needed in the industry has only seen a slight reduction.

In 2023 members are telling us that they need 240 drillers, 504 offsiders and 99 trades across all sectors. It is difficult to ascertain if there would be higher utilisation if more labour could be sourced.

It would be likely that this would be the case in some companies, but not across the board.

The same would hold true for previous years, therefore the utilisation trend should still be seen as reasonably accurate.


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