Boart LongyearTM History
1880s to Early 1900s
In 1888, Edmund J. Longyear, a mining engineer from the first graduating class at the Michigan School of Mines, drilled the first diamond core hole in the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota. Shortly afterward, he formed a contract diamond drilling company to serve the rapidly growing U.S. iron ore mining and steel industry. In 1903, Longyear and John E. Hodge formed a partnership called Longyear and Hodge to expand their business, which included contract drilling, shaft-sinking, mineral ventures, and related consulting work. In 1911, the Longyear and Hodge partnership merged with Longyear’s separate contract drilling company to E.J. Longyear ("Longyear") Company. The Company’s first price list in 1912 featured 19 drill models with drilling capabilities between 750 – 5,000 feet. Those drills were powered mainly by steam engines, which later would be replaced by internal combustion engines developed in the 1920s. The Company expanded rapidly in the U.S. and overseas. From 1912 to 1916, the company drilled for copper in Cuba, the Company's first international project. In 1914, Longyear began setting up the first of six diamond core rigs for Phelps Dodge Corporation to explore for copper in Arizona. In 1919, the Company began a 15-month drilling project in Yunnan Province, China.
1920s to 1930s
By the 1920s, about half of the Company's drilling was outside the continental United States. Robert Longyear (E.J.’s son) became president of the firm in 1924, preserving the chain of family ownership and management that would continue for another 40 years. In 1929, Longyear sold almost USD$1.5 million worth of drilling equipment to other drillers. The following year the company formed its first foreign subsidiary in Canada. The company also signed its first contract for work in Africa, sending equipment and a crew to provide drilling for copper ores. However, the stock market crash of October 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression sent the company spiraling downwards to near ruin with sales falling to a historic low of just $79,000 in 1933. During the 1930s, Longyear took on a project drilling for core samples for the proposed Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. In spite of the financial crisis, the 1930,s saw great improvements in diamond drilling technology, including the use of industrial-quality diamonds mined in Africa that were called “Boarts.” In 1936, South Africa’s Anglo American Corporation formed Boart Products South Africa (Pty) Limited, which was later named Boart International. The new company developed the first mechanically set diamond core bits, which proved less expensive than the hand-set core bits that used more expensive Brazilian diamonds (carbonados).
1940s to 1950s
Longyear’s business gradually improved in the 1940s in response to expanding worldwide mineral exploration. In 1949 Longyear introduced dependable and highly productive surface-set diamond bits to the industry. During the 1950s, Longyear expanded the business into Japan, France, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, the Philippines and Costa Rica. This growth fueled new technology, and in 1958 Longyear patented the first wireline core retrieval system, an innovation that revolutionized the diamond drilling industry by increasing productivity on the worksite and making tripping core from the bottom of the hole safer for the drilling assistant. Later named the Q™ Wireline System, the new core retrieval method introduced a level of productivity never before seen in the exploration drilling industry. The advantages of the genuine Q™ system quickly generated industry-wide acceptance of Boart Longyear’s wireline technology, securing the Company’s place in the history of drilling technology. The Q™ Wireline System became the mark by which all future innovation at the Company would be measured.
1960s to 1970s
In 1964 Longyear sold 25 percent of its family-owned stock. In 1965 when Longyear's annual sales had reached USD$15 million, the company bought more land in Minneapolis and persuaded the city government to vacate Erie Street to accommodate its expansion. In 1969, Longyear opened its new Minneapolis office building and an enlarged manufacturing plant. For the first time in its history, the company's headquarters and its U.S. production were located at one site. Longyear sales reached USD$40 million in 1970.
After the death of Robert Longyear in 1970, the board of directors appointed John Hoffmeister as president and chairman of the board of the company.
In 1974, Boart International (a wholly owned subsidiary of Anglo American) became the sole owner of Longyear and added the technical talent to allow Longyear to become the world's leading manufacturer of diamond bits.
It was during this transition when Boart Longyear™ engineers in North Bay, Ontario, secured a reliable source of high-performance synthetic diamonds, which triggered the development of a completely revolutionary bit design – the impregnated-diamond bit. With decades of powder metallurgy experience behind them, Longyear engineers set out to develop a new crown that consisted of synthetic diamonds evenly distributed throughout a composite matrix. This new design could drill further and faster than surface-set bits and cut through much harder material.
In 1975, the Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company decided to end its production of diamond drills. Longyear purchased the right to make and sell Chicago Pneumatic's small CP-65 compressed air drill designed for underground use.
In 1977, Longyear purchased rights to make concrete saws from the Drillistics Company. The firm's Salt Lake City plant began making diamond saw blades in the early 1980s.
1980s to 1990s
By 1980, 75% of Longyear’s Canadian-produced bits were of the new impregnated type, and Longyear was manufacturing diamond bits in more than eight countries.
In 1983, Longyear acquired Lang Exploratory Drilling based in Utah and in 1984 purchased Cushion Cut, a firm with 25 years’ experience making and using diamond tools to saw concrete in runways and highways. In 1986, Longyear acquired three more companies: Morissette, an underground and surface diamond drilling firm; Brainard-Kilman, a maker of civil engineering devices, such as well monitoring and test equipment; and Chemgrout. Longyear acquired Slope Indicator Company, the nation's largest producer of geotechnical instruments, and Northern Air Supply in 1988, followed by the Campbell Pacific Division in 1989 and WTD Environmental Drilling in 1990.
In 1994, North Star Drilling Company, specializing in sonic drilling was acquired. By 1995, Boart International and the Longyear Company officially merged into a single company and changed its name to Boart Longyear Limited. At this point the two companies adopted the new logo and corporate colors.
2000 to Present
In 2005 Boart Longyear was divested by Anglo American and acquired by the private equity firms Advent International, Bain Capital and several management investors. The headquarters was then moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Since the sale by Anglo American, management had undertaken a number of ownership changes, restructuring initiatives, acquisitions, all establishing Boart Longyear as a global leader in mining exploration services and products. By October 2006, Advent sold Boart Longyear to the Australian investment firm, Macquarie Bank, and, in April 2007, Macquarie took Boart Longyear public in an AUD$2.3 billion IPO on the ASX stock exchange. Boart Longyear’s IPO was the second largest IPO in the history of the ASX. The patented Stage™ waterway bit design was introduced and provided the first extended 25mm crown in the market.
In 2008 Boart Longyear acquired Eklund Drilling, Britton Brothers, Aqua Drillig and Westrod Engineering. The new patented Quick Descent™ Core Barrel Assembly was launched.
Early 2009, Paul Brunner retired as Chief Executive Officer of the Company and was succeeded by Craig Kipp, who had served for three years as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Kipp was employed by General Electric from 1983 to 2005.
In early 2010 Boart Longyear continued to introduce new technology to the industry, drilling products include a heli-portable surface drill with integrated rod handling, patentend surface set bit technology and patented spearpoint design for the corebarrel head assembly.