Raise Boring by Master Drilling

Roughly two thirds of Master Drilling’s services consist of raise drilling / boring. Surface and underground raise boring, underground and surface exploration drilling and blind hole boring are amongst the services offered by Master Drilling. When using Master Drilling for your boring needs we guarantee you increased safety, increased speed and a decrease in costs.

raise boring

Who We Are

  • Master Drilling has 30 years’ experience in Raise Boring, and currently has over 100 rigs in use worldwide, making them global leaders.

Definition of Raise Boring

  • Raise drilling is used to create ventilation shafts as well as shafts through which the mined ore can be passed.Raise boring is the process used in underground mining to create a circular hole between two levels within a mine.
  • This method and process eliminate the need for explosives. The raise borer machine is placed on the level above the two levels which are going to be the focus of the boring operation. Then, once the top level has been broken through and a pilot hole is placed into to upper level of the two levels you are focusing on, a reaming head is used to create the required tunnel in the exact size that is needed.
  • Being able to carry out this heavy duty mining activity, without having to use explosives, is the feature of Raise Boring. Blasting can be incredibly dangerous, it can lack precision and it wastes a huge amount of time. When using the boring method, the mine on which you are working does not have to be evacuated and the procedure can be completed during the shift times. This saves time because the mine does not have to be closed while the raise boring is taking place.



  • Master Drilling’s Core Drilling resources cover the complete scope required, from shallow holes up to 5 000m deep; underground and surface rigs; different configurations and supporting plant; rod handlers and hand free rod makeup/breakout; steel water reticulation systems; and onsite video monitoring and digital reporting. Core Drilling is the least invasive type of drilling and is used in difficult or remote areas. A very high standard of quality or representative of the geology can be collected and the information used as the basis for consideration, design and construction based on the potential of the ore body or nature of the geology.
  • The information is used in modelling to give engineers and geologists a visual representation of what is underground that cannot be seen from the surface. It is a relatively lower cost method due to the drilling method. With initiatives from Master Drilling, in response to the industry’s requirements, a safer personnel environment can be offered in terms of equipment handling and operational procedures.

Raise Boring Advantages


  • Core Drilling is used in underground mining for delineation of an ore body and resource definition and valuation. It is used in tunnel infrastructure to ensure that no methane pockets of air are mined into, as well as for water bearing areas that could potentially flood the underground infrastructure. In addition, Core Drilling is used for the geo-technical evaluation of the nature, material properties and type of rock for the purposes of designing a certain size shaft, tunnel or stoping panel to be used for the calculation of the type and amount of rock support required.
  • In many cases, Core Drilling is used for resource definition, which enables engineers to see the exact position in relation to an access tunnel of a certain geological feature of interest in the construction of infrastructure or in mining. On the surface, it is similar depending on the stage of exploration of grid holes for resource estimation and conformation purposes. This is optimised to a finer grid as mining operations start and finer detail is required. In the construction or urban infrastructure industries, Core Drilling is mainly used for geotechnical information in the design of foundations for bridges, buildings, tunnels, etc.
  • In the energy industry, it is used for the collecting of core in gas, oil, coal or uranium carrying geology. The sample is stored and tested in a laboratory to understand the yield of energy that could be extracted from this type of geology and the nature of the structure.

raise boring

Why should you use this mine drilling technique? Raise drilling has become a popular method to use when creating holes between the two levels. The method became popular because it saves time, it saves money and it is the safest way in which you can create a hole.

  1. Safety
    This is possibly the safest method you can use to create a tunnel or a shaft. Without the need for explosives, there is little danger of causing the mine to collapse.
  2. Increase in productivity
    By using this mining technique, the tunnel you need to have created is done quickly and with minimal disruption to the mining that is taking place in the other shafts.
  3. Minimal rock disturbance
    The drilling doesn’t shake the surrounding rock with the same intensity that a blast will. This means that it is possibly the safest method you can use in order to create the needed shaft without bringing the entire level or even the entire mine down.
  4. Costs are reduced
    With less time spent creating the shaft and less time spent cleaning up the after math, raise boring is going to save you money.
  5. Quick completion
    This drilling is a speedy method.

raise drilling Raise boring machinery are known to be highly accurate in their operations and this adds to the overall effectiveness of this mining practice.

If the boring procedure begins to veer off course, the machinery has built-in directional instruments that are able to put the machinery back in line so that the boring can continue running in the planned way. This boring technique is not always suitable for a mine as it takes place between two levels and some mines do not have this.

Raise drilling is used mostly for mining purposes and has revolutionised the way in which mining and drilling are done. Not only has raise boring made mining safer but it has also made mining easier in many ways. These are the uses of raise boring drilling:

  • It can be used for drainage purposes
  • It is used to provide ventilation for the inside of the mine and especially to the lower levels that receive little air
  • It creates tunnels for the mined minerals and metals to be transported easily to the surface
  • It can be used to make shafts for the miners and their tools to be easily transported in and out of the mine
  • It can be used for certain hydro electrical projects
  • It is used for difficult horizontal and low angle drilling

What should you consider when selecting a raise boring machine?

The drifts that a mine has should be one of the first things a mining company examines. The size and the weight of a raise boring machine that you are considering will depend on the drifts. The power of the machine is another factor to consider. If you are drilling through levels that are incredibly strong you will need to have very powerful machinery. The stability of the area where you want to do the boring should be carefully scrutinised in order to determine the risks that are involved when using this machinery in a certain area.

The mine that is considering using a raise boring machine, will need to find out about the drilling rods. It is important to find out the lifespan of the rods, how often they have been used and the capacity of the rods. A mine should keep in mind that this mining machinery is used underground to bore between levels. With this in mind, a mine should contemplate the various proportions of the boring machinery and it should consider the flexibility and moveability of the machinery. You wouldn’t want the machine that you have hired to either not be able to fit where you need it to be or to get stuck when inside. You should also check the operating height.

The raise boring optimization analysis of reliability should also be measured.

With 97 raise boring machines and 60 other machines, Master Drilling is more than capable to send the right equipment to your project and with our skilled staff, your project will be in good hands.

Master Drilling offers raise boring solutions worldwide with preference to the following countries: Peru, Chili, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Kazakhstan, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, DRC, Mali, Burkina Faso, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Kenia, Namibia , South Africa, Ireland, Poland, Finland,  Sweden, Norwegian, Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey and Malta.


Raise boring FAQ – Master Drilling

How does raise boring compare to other methods, such as shaft sinking, for accuracy, advance rate, safety and cost?

  • Keep in mind that for shaft sinking no bottom access, such as required for Raise Boring is necessary. In regards to accuracy, sunk shafts are surveyed as they are constructed downwards. So verticality can easily be maintained to 50mm accuracy. It is now through trials conducted by MD possible to absolute steer the directionality of a RB shaft to with 150mm radius from the theoretical vertical centre of the shaft, irrespective of the depth.
  • An example of this is a recently completed shaft where the holing displacement at 1070m was 80mm from the theoretical shaft centre line. For shafts that won’t be used for hoisting man/material deflection is not a great concern and can be managed to very tight tolerances with verticality drilling tools. For larger, deeper RB shafts a RB all-inclusive advance rate of 4-6m/day could be compared to 1-2m/day for blind sunk shafts. Keep in mind that for RB shafts no personal is required to access the shaft, so there is no need for support from that point of view. If used as a ventilation shaft.
  • If ground conditions are extremely bad, blind sinking is an alternative to RB. The two could also be used in conjunction with each other in applications where bottom access is available for rock loading and large diameters need to be constructed. Safety for RB is considerably different, with no access to the shaft required as mentioned above and a fraction of the personel required, all working in controlled/protected environments. An RB shaft has a much lower cost that sunk shafts due to efficiencies, lower labour compliments, etc. It also significantly improves financial measures such as NPV, etc.

raise borer

What are the typical requirements and features of a raise boring machine?

  • See general description of the RB method available in the public domain.How has the raise boring technique evolved in recent years? Have there been any recent significant technological advances?
  • The basic concept is still the same, although the application of the method for various different excavations has evolved with success. The method is more know and excepted as a reliable tool for engineers. Also as mining requirements grew, the accesses to more personal are required and projects are more remote. Its popularity grows.
  • Drill rod metallurgical changes, cutting consumable quality and the control of the cutting process has significantly attributed to technology changes over the last few years.

How does the cutting technology vary for different rock conditions?

  • It is very important to understand the geotechnical characteristics and consistency of the rock formation to be drilled through. There are different parameters with regards to the different rock formations and is important to know where the geological consistency changes regarding the brittleness, toughness and abrasiveness to reduce operational risk and costs.

What would be best practice techniques for raise boring? How important is good operator training?

  • MD through managing such a big fleet continuously challenge existing standards and define new ones, through this process they establish the latest and best practice to deliver a quality service to the industry.
  • Operating training is off high importance due to the potential risk of dropping a reamer head or gets a drill rod stuck during the drilling process.  These risks can be mitigated and managed through proper training and replacing operator control for critical tasks by automated functions.   Master Drilling is currently involved in the development project which will see a machine being operated remotely in the final phase of developments.

What guidelines would you recommend for choosing a suitable raise boring machine for a particular site? What factors do companies need to take into account?

  • Selecting of equipment is one thing and can be done on the basis of the rig, drill rods, etc. capacity, etc. What is important is for employers to understand the critical nature of these excavations in/for the rest of their operations. Which risk it may pose to their operations if these infrastructures are not delivered on time as well as the commercial viability of purchasing a rig only. There are many other issues such as backup, training, procedures, experience, knowledge that employer should consider. Therefore selecting an experienced contractor a much safer and cost-effective consideration.

What safety features are normally incorporated on raise boring machines? How are safety standards improving?

  • MD now provides rod handlers and more recently mobile erectors and remote operated spanners. Through the training, operating procedures and some technical innovation safety standards are improved.
  • How much automation is used in raise boring, and is there room for more automation in future?
  • It is being used more regularly, MD are investing considerable resources to establish reliable remote and automated features for their operations. There is always more room for automation.

What do you think are the main trends in the raise boring market?

  • We have seen earlier consultation with clients and engineers with MD to explore options in mine planning and construction. This can provide these parties with much better use of RB as a tool to increase their production, logistics, safety, timelines, etc.

What are the main areas of research and development for raise boring?

  • MD continuously invest in R&D and see this as a strategy to differentiate their services to those of others as a result of technical and operational advances.

Has Master Drilling launched anything new recently related to raise boring? Are there any new releases planned for the near future?

  • MD has released a new user interface with machines, enabling some autonomous functions. They are in the phased approach currently to grow this feature to full remote control of operations.
  • MD is correctly manufacturing a Large raise boring machine which will challenge capacity that has been available up to now for the excavation of large and deep diameter shafts.

Has Master Drilling been involved in any interesting drilling projects recently that you can tell us about, or are there any significant deliveries coming up?

  • Master Drilling has been involved in the successful drilling of the first pilot hole for 2 ventilation shafts to be constructed using raise boring, in South Africa.  It is stated that the contact will see two of the largest ever raise bored shafts constructed based on excavated volumes, and two of the largest diameter shafts ever completed for and above a 1 070 m depth.