Mineral exploration in unconsolidated material has always been a risky proposition primarily because, in the past, there was no economical, versatile or accurate method of determining where to mine. With the advent of sonic drilling technology, the situation has improved. Ray Roussy, Sonic Drill Corporation President, patent holder and a key developer of modern day sonic drilling technology, says: “It was surprising for us to realise that 7 out of 10 sonic rigs are purchased for mining exploration.”Initially, the sonic drill rig had been seen as a powerful environmental investigation drill due to its ability to provide undisturbed core samples. Although the diamond drill has long been the preferred tool for mineral exploration in hard rock, in unconsolidated material, it has two unfortunate drawbacks. It doesn’t drill well in unconsolidated materials and, secondly, it can’t provide accurate core samples from those kinds of formations. Only a sonic drill can recover a continuous core including boulders, clays, silt, sand and gravel and lay it in its stratigraphic sequence – from the surface all the way down to 100 m and deeper.Using Roussy’s patented sonic drill head, samples, ranging from 3 in to 8 in diameter, can be obtained from a wide variety of mineral deposits including hard-to-extract oil sands, slag piles, mine tailings and heap leach pads. Extruded into clear plastic sleeves and then neatly laid out, these core samples can be subjected to a detailed visual examination and analysis, followed by sampling, photographing and archiving for a permanent record of the existing mineral conditions. In other words, the gold, or other valuable mineral, remains where it was found in the sample. Cased holes, provided by the sonic drilling technique, also prevent the collapse of the borehole and ensure that cores are not contaminated by up-hole debris.