Drilling into west African growth

INTERNATIONAL drilling services company Reflex Drilling is making inroads into the emerging mining sector of west Africa as a resource definition and exploration drilling specialist. By Ben Creagh - RESOURCESTOCKS*
Drilling into west African growth Drilling into west African growth Drilling into west African growth Drilling into west African growth Drilling into west African growth

Reflex founder James Gibson

Staff Reporter

Reflex Drilling has emerged as a reliable, safety focused and technically advanced drilling company that has grown organically since its formation.

Formed in 2005, Reflex Drilling was established by Australia-born James Gibson to initially undertake drilling projects in eastern and western Europe.

Gibson, now 38, left the agricultural industry and entered the drilling industry in 1992 at the age of 19 when he became part-owner and operator of a multi-purpose drill rig based out of the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia.

After more than a decade working for larger drilling groups in Australia, Africa, and Central America, Gibson saw the opportunity for a bespoke drilling outfit focused on international projects undertaken by ASX and TSX-listed resource companies.

The focus then and now is to offer safety, production and technical know-how to the high level that clients would expect in their own country of origin.

Since its inception Reflex has predominantly operated on projects throughout Europe, North Africa and western Africa.

The company strives to set the benchmark in innovative drilling systems. With its current focus on the emerging west African gold sector, it aims to be a recognised force in providing clean, cost effective samples.

Reflex has developed its drill fleet from a primarily low-impact and limited-access diamond core operation into a multi-purpose drilling outfit providing a wide range of drilling methods to its clients with an established and internationally experienced operating team.

In terms of its capabilities, Reflex has built a reputation around its multi-disciplined surface exploration and production drilling. Its capabilities extend to delivering NI 43-101 and JORC-compliant drilling methods, reverse circulation pre-collars to 400m, directional diamond core drilling to 2000m, RC grade control and geotechnical drilling.

Reflex utilises multi-purpose, tracked core and heli-man portable drill rigs. These drill rigs have been standardised to ensure Reflex is able to hold a comprehensive parts inventory in west Africa to allow it to respond quickly and efficiently to any mechanical issues.

The rigs are supported by all-terrain tracked carriers and mobile base stations fitted with satellite communication systems in all remote areas, with drilling office facilities and mechanical workshop and hydraulic repairing facilities on each site. Onsite expat supervisors and qualified drill fitters support drill crews.

Reflex’s west African operations are now well established and positioned in the Ashanti gold region of Ghana, which it views as a stable central launching point via road to other parts of west Africa such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Liberia.

Reflex has a diverse and multi-cultural team of people from countries including Australia, Ghana, Romania, Morocco, Portugal and Serbia. The company employs more than 90 staff and is headquartered in Ghana and Australia, with offices in Serbia.

Onsite personnel are experienced professionals who are selected not only for their technical skills but also for their ability to communicate clearly and interact well with clients.

While Reflex intends to continue drilling in Europe, it has shifted its focus to the west African gold sector, where its main clients include PMI Gold and Endeavour Mining.

“At the end of 2010 we changed our direction to a certain extent by shifting more focus onto the gold sector, particularly in west Africa,” Gibson said.

“We believe that the volatile global economic markets will support this strategy as exploration companies ramp up their search for economic gold resources in the region.Drill sampling is the principal product we supply and our aim is to provide our clients this product promptly via safe, reliable drilling practices.’’

Outside of west Africa, Reflex is operating in the Iberian Peninsula and looking at opportunities in Serbia and Turkey, countries the company’s management has past experience in.

Its vast range of hands-on drilling experience supports the diversity of Reflex’s operations with a proven background in Anglophone, Francophone and Arabic-speaking countries.

“Reflex is accustomed to this diversity: we have developed our own internal systems and documents not only in French and English but also in Arabic and we aren’t opposed to taking on contracts in emerging markets,” Gibson said.

Strengthening the company in this regard is newly appointed industry veteran Brian Bermingham, who brings more than 40 years experience in the drilling field to the role of general manager.

Bermingham carved out his name in Kalgoorlie with Glindemann & Kitching before transferring to Africa in 2000 as the operations manager for West African Drilling Services, responsible for all operations in Ghana, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali before establishing Ausdrill’s Ghana drilling division in 2004, now known as African Mining Services. (AMS).

He has spent the past five years working with international company Capital Drilling as regional manager for Southern Africa.

Reflex also plans to spread its workload into Australia in the last quarter of 2013. It is yet to operate there as a company. Gibson said it would be a logical move for Reflex given the company’s origins and the fact it has an office and workshop based in Perth to support its quality assurance and logistics program.

To advance its development and internal efficiency, Reflex has engaged Kolbe Systems as it seeks to internally optimise performance and deliver a professional and efficient drilling service. Kolbe has strengthened Reflex’s ability to deliver clear outcomes through a systematic step-by-step program that provides a more efficient, cost-effective service.

These outcomes are achieved through a complete organisational chart that defines company divisions, business statistics, quality assurance procedures, continuous improvement policies, internal dictionaries and refining of internal communications that is supported on its own intranet.

The Kolbe System Certification has also put Reflex in a strong position to effectively manage the growth it has planned for the coming years, according to Evan Kolbe, who has systemised more than 150 Australian companies.

“The system will add uniformity to the company’s expansion,” Kolbe said.

“As the company expands into new areas it will assist by removing any of the growing pains it may have experienced otherwise and keeps team members on track and clearly understanding their role in delivering Reflex’s final end product to its clients.”

Reflex has been working with the Global Tech team customising the ePlod system, which it will be rolling out in the coming months. The ePlod is a handheld device that records shift information onsite and provides daily reporting of drilling costs and project progress for the company to relay back to clients via an online client login facility.

The ePlod shift data can also be produced in multiple formats and can be exported into third party accounting or database systems.

The ePlod facilitates a paperless environment, utilising digital signatures to sign off on daily drill logs. It enables both the clients and contractors’ senior management to get real-time information from the drilling project. Furthermore, it brings an end to an era of ambiguity and manual triple and, in some cases, quadruple entry of data, minimising errors and increasing the efficiencies of management, particularly on multiple rig projects.

Gibson said Reflex was not overly focused on rig count compared to other companies in the drilling field but was more focused on expansion through its clients’ project requirements while maintaining its ability to quickly respond to their needs.

“We have to be a more responsive group when compared to bigger companies because our clients are more crucial to us and we respond to that,” he said.

“Our emphasis is on a personalised service to deliver drilling programs that achieve the client’s targets and timelines. We integrate advanced drilling equipment and experienced personnel to deliver optimal results.”

Safety is of optimum importance to Reflex as it strives towards an accident-free workplace.

Gibson said Reflex’s management team understood its duty of care obligations for the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses and was committed to the safety of all employees, clients and contractors.

*A version of this report, first published in the August 2012 edition of RESOURCESTOCKS magazine, was commissioned by Reflex Drilling

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