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Year in Review: Major Drilling’s Top News From 2020

By January 6, 2021May 31st, 2022No Comments

As global drilling teams forge ahead into 2021, it’s a great time to look back on a year to remember.

Major Drilling rose to the challenges of 2020 by meeting demand and innovating for the future. Despite the difficulties wrought by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the company continued to set drilling records, receive safety awards, take delivery of new drills and mark significant milestones both internally and for clients.

Enjoy these Major Drilling highlights from 2020!


The year kicked off with the company’s 40th anniversary of operations. Headquartered in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, Major Drilling is one of the world’s largest drilling services companies primarily serving the mining industry. The company proudly upholds its place as the worldwide leader in specialized drilling being registered in over 20 countries on five continents with more than 600 rigs and over 2,900 employees.

It was a great honor, for a third year in a row, to receive the Safe Day Everyday Gold Award from the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) and the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC). Major Drilling earned Safe Day Everyday Gold Awards at the AME Roundup in 2018, 2019 and 2020, receiving recognition for millions of hours of work performed without a lost time incident.

In an outstanding feat of drilling prowess and expertise, Major Drilling broke the record for the longest diamond drill hole in Canada at 3,467 meters, reached at the Osisko Mining Windfall property in Quebec, on January 26. The Discovery One deep drill hole replaces the Canadian record previously held by Major Drilling.

Osisko President and Chief Executive Officer, John Burzynski, said, “We are very proud of our Osisko team and Major Drilling for their tremendous work completing this hole.”


Major Drilling celebrated the 25th anniversary of its initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Executives, directors and staff observed the event by opening the market at TMX Group’s Broadcast Centre on March 5, 2020. They commemorated the original listing date, March 8, 1995. Major Drilling Group International Inc. is traded as Toronto Stock Exchange ticker symbol MDI.

Also in March, Major Drilling celebrated International Women’s Day by sharing stories of five women who inspire the industry to support, expand and change minds about women in mining and drilling.

“Their contributions have helped make Major Drilling safer, build stronger teams, solve problems, and improve our financial strength,” Ben Graham, VP of HR & Safety, said.

See their stories here.


Safety is a core value at Major Drilling, so the company proudly introduced its newest worldwide safety initiative, the Critical Risks Management program, in 2020. The program builds on two foundational initiatives—TAKE 5 and 10 Lifesaving Rules—to provide a set list of critical controls for every critical risk. Maintaining and continually updating universal, world-class safety programs is a top priority because safety is a foundational part of any successful drilling operation.


Major Drilling Indonesia (operating as PT Major Drilling) teams joined with partners across Indonesia to achieve over 3 million hours lost time injury free at four different project sites. The combined workforce of 600 operates at different locations throughout the region drilling both on the surface and underground. PT Pontil Indonesia is a subsidiary of Major Drilling Group International.


The ever-growing deck of Major Drilling innovations dealt several new offerings in 2020. Major Drilling is adding more analytics, more automation and more safety innovations than ever before. These include:

  • The Trailblazer Analytics system, a computerized analytics dashboard system. It can be retrofitted to surface and underground coring drills to capture drilling parameters.
  • A client-facing web portal intended to provide clients with daily project visibility, information and progression.
  • A new hands-free horizontal stacking rod handler, the Major Drilling SafeGrip. This innovation is the next generation manipulator for surface coring rigs.


As the worldwide leader in specialized drilling, and as experts in mineral exploration and mine services, Major Drilling renewed its commitment to continuously monitor and improve operations. The the company seeks to minimize environmental impact and bring positive contributions to the communities where it does business. This commitment is outlined with an updated website and ESG Policy.

“It’s a duty for all of us in the industry to be more aware of Environmental, Social and Governance issues and be responsible corporate citizens,” Denis Larocque, President & CEO, said.

Mr. Larocque also received honors from Atlantic Business Magazine when he was named one of the 2020 Top 50 CEOs in the Atlantic Canada region. The awards recognize leaders for their corporate growth, commitment to the community and ability to navigate challenges including the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“It is a great honor to be among this year’s Top 50 CEOs,” he said. “Despite some setbacks in 2020, it is an exciting year for us with our 40th anniversary, and I look forward to what’s next as we continue to be leaders in the mining industry globally.”


As part of the contractor team at Ero Copper Corp.’s Mineração Caraíba project in Brazil, 120 of Major Drilling’s specialized drilling experts celebrated one year LTI free. The drilling team has contracted with Ero Copper since 2018.

On October 22, Major Drilling Mongolia set the record for an extremely deep, 2,000-meter PQ3 hole at Oyu Tolgoi.

“The successful completion of this hole is not only an incredible achievement for Major Drilling Mongolia, it also opens the door for additional deep hole drilling at Oyu Tolgoi as the project continues to expand,” Ann Sam, Oyu Tolgoi Supervisor Mine Geology, Underground Geoscience Services, said.


Major Drilling began taking delivery of five new drills for Canada and USA exploration projects. The purchase includes a mobile Diamec Smart 6 MCR and two Diamec Smart 8 core drills for the USA. In Canada, teams will receive two Smart 6 core drills. Arrival of the drills indicates momentum in the mining industry with many mines and exploration companies ramping up exploration projections for 2021. The drills show commitment to “smart” systems that provide more automation for worker safety and mobility for clients’ needs. This results in less downtime and more value over the life of clients’ projects.

“As the industry continues to demand more exploration, we are meeting needs through innovative equipment that is safer and more efficient than ever before,” Kelly Johnson, Major Drilling Senior VP Operations – North America & Africa, said.


Continued commitment to #MajorDrillingCares initiatives persisted even as the world felt the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and responded to ongoing needs in many communities. Despite the hardships, Major Drilling employees found new ways to show support and compassion through social responsibility initiatives. Read more about #MajorDrillingCares initiatives in different countries around the world here.

“I am grateful for the way our global Major Drilling teams stepped up and reached out in the face of this year’s struggles,” Denis Larocque, President and CEO, said. “Their resilience and big hearts have made a difference and helped many endure through the challenges of 2020.”

Follow Major Drilling on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram to receive the latest company news and updates. Major Drilling celebrates 40 years of specialized drilling expertise from 1980-2020. Learn more about how to make your next drilling project safe and successful with Major Drilling.