Northern Star chooses Swick for Pogo project

Australia’s Swick Mining Services has won a contract to supply eight of its Gen II mobile drill rigs to Northern Star Resources for use at its Pogo mine in Alaska.

Noel Dyson
 A mine truck at work at the Pogo site

A mine truck at work at the Pogo site

Swick's managing director, Kent Swick, said the company was due to start at Pogo in mid- to late-May. "We have built four new Gen II mobile drill rigs for the first time in years and these are already being shipped, with another four rigs being rebuilt to new standards," he said.

While the Pogo contract has Swick building Gen II rigs again, it also helped the company continue its turnaround efforts.

In its March quarterly statement, the company reported a six per cent revenue increase to $35.2 million on the previous corresponding period and a 58 per cent earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation leap, year-on-year, to $6.3 million.

It managed to land $210 million in contracts that it was pursuing during the March quarter including the Pogo work, a rig expansion at BHP's Olympic Dam and contract extensions at Kirkland Lake Gold's Cosmo gold mine and Newmont Australia's Tanami gold mine.

"The recent $210 million in work has provided a strong base for the business, with many rigs moving from low margin, long-term work to target margin long-term work," Swick added.

"Our ability to secure rate adjustments where necessary, as well as locking in fixed shift contract rates at projects where production may be at risk for various reasons has been key in significantly derisking the business on a commercial basis.

"Each mine site is unique, which means we sometimes look at fixed shift contract rates to ensure we do not over promise to clients. For example, fixed shift rates are quoted when productivity cannot be accurately predicted, such as in deep drilling or challenging ground conditions.

"What we can guarantee is mechanical uptime, crew utilisation, safe and skilled crews, and the most powerful and versatile rigs."

Swick said transitions to other projects had gone well and the company's recent win at Telfer showed its ability to target additional opportunities at brownfield operating mines, particularly as producers looked to increase output in response to strong prices.

"We are also positioning Swick to ensure we have the capacity to meet clients' changing requirements, such as the expected delivery of three DeepEX rigs in the current quarter," he concluded.