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Maxibor uses HDD to overcome ESG challenges

Maxibor is taking steps to practically applying the use of HDD to help overcome the environmental challenges that communities now face, demonstrating how HDD can be an important part of the environmental solutions to achieve the goals and values of ESG.

ESG is an acronym for Environmental, Social, and (Corporate) Governance, related to the standards of social responsibility in investing. Each category of ESG has numerous subcategories, allowing each business or investor to contextualize ESG in relation to their goals or values.

The “E” principles in ESG cover:

  • Climate change and carbon emissions
  • Air and water pollution
  • Biodiversity
  • Energy efficiency
  • Deforestation
  • Waste management
  • Water scarcity.

Maxibor is embracing these principles in its sustainability and environmental policies and procedures at a design, construction methodology development and HDD delivery level for each project it undertakes.

Furthermore, Maxibor’s HDD sustainability initiatives are enabling asset owners and tier 1 principal contractors to respond to the accelerating community demand for demonstrated action around the key ESG environmental principles. The company’s collaborative approach is providing asset owners across the water and sewer, rail, power, gas, telecommunications, mining, defence, fuel, sea cable, data centre, hydrogen and renewables sectors a readily available means to demonstrate evidence of sustainable infrastructure installation practices. 

Climate change

HDD is an important part of climate change adaptation action to mitigate the impact of fire, wind, flood, inundation, drought and rain bombs. 

Simultaneous disasters in multiple locations, as happened with the 2019-20 bushfires, and now the 2022 floods, stretches the ability of infrastructure asset owners and emergency services personnel and resources to respond to these events in a timely and effective manner. Having key infrastructure such as electricity and telecommunications underground in times of extreme and higher frequency climate change induced events provides greater certainty of supply as they are safely away from the above ground impact of extreme weather events. 

Having infrastructure underground also increases community safety and reduces the recovery effort to re-establish essential services. The old above ground location of utilities as well as drainage is not sustainable – placement of infrastructure underground is a key part of the climate change mitigation and resilience solution. 

Design and construct of long (over 1,000 m) and larger diameter (800 mm to 1.6 m) HDD bores is where Maxibor can add most value to climate change mitigation projects. The company’s design expertise in long, challenging pipeline installations and the capacity of its maxi-rigs like the Gallagher 660e, Gallagher 600, American Auger 660 and Vermeer D330x500 plus its powerful Gardner Denver PZ9 pumps with 1000HP engines Gardner Denver PZ8 pumps with 750 HP engines, provide a turnkey solution for infrastructure asset owners on these projects. The involvement of Maxibor’s HDD expertise in projects at the concept and early design stages is where its innovative solutions and experience will optimise Value to a project.

Carbon emissions 

It is incumbent on all industries to reduce carbon emissions. The use of emissions friendly electric rig spreads such as can be provided by Maxibor with the Gallagher HDD660e maxi-rig (The Hulk), powerful pumps and drill mud recycling system assists in a cleaner and lower noise delivery of HDD services. Such an HDD delivery solution is ideal for well-established metropolitan areas. 

Even with using diesel powered plant, HDD will have a lower level of carbon emissions than open cut methods of pipeline installation. The key drivers of the lower emissions include:

  • Smaller site footprint and with mostly static site equipment
  • Less high emission machinery as no need for high emission open cut civil activities such as excavation, backfilling, compaction and reinstatement
  • Fewer traffic movements to dispose of surplus excavated materials and bring in replacement materials for drainage, compaction and rehabilitation
  • Less local traffic disruptions, diversion and extended waiting times equals less vehicle pollution around civil works that include HDD.

Maxibor is able to measure its carbon emissions through a carbon calculator model. The emissions produced by undertaking the works using an open cut method can also be modelled to provide a measure of the carbon emissions benefit of using HDD.  

For carbon emissions to be reduced by the civil construction industry the way Maxibor delivers projects needs to select more carbon emissions friendly methods. Changes in behaviour around design, construction methodologies and equipment used is required. Maxibor’s electric HDD maxi-rig spread and carbon emissions measuring model are examples of how the industry is changing its behaviour.

Air and water pollution and waste management

Ageing infrastructure is an increasing issue across Australia. This is particularly so in the water sector where the deleterious nature of fluid leaks from ageing infrastructure is unacceptable environmentally. HDD is a key part of the replacement solution to prevent environmental damage and preserve limited resources.  

As HDD is able to undertake its work at a greater depth than open cut methods, it is less likely to interfere with existing services. Nevertheless, it is important to utilise modern services location equipment to confirm drawings. As well, use of fit for purpose steering equipment is essential when completing the pilot hole for each bore. All this helps to avoid the pollution of the local water supply and surrounding environment.

Good design in the planning stage with quality geotech information and experienced HDD drillers also reduce the underground environmental risks.

Preparing and implementing a comprehensive drill mud management plan will help ensure that the drill fluid materials used are appropriate for the local environment. The risk of frac outs or other unplanned escapes of drilling fluid will also be minimised through good practice drilling fluid management. 

Improved drill fluid technology is providing products being better able to address bore hole challenges. Ingredients to address bacterial odour from the drill mud and unstable bore holes such as those encountered in water charged sands are reducing the frequency and extent of  unwanted outcomes from HDD projects.

Improved drill fluid disposal practices are  also reducing the amount of waste which needs to be transported from site. Products are now available which solidify the water based drill fluids on site. This reduces the quantity of waste required to be disposed and the number of vehicle movements for disposal to a licensed facility.


HDD is beneficial to the environment especially when compared to traditional open-cut trenching and excavation methods. 

Open-cut trenching methods are more harmful to the environment due to the large increase in mechanical disturbance in the soil  profiles where flora and fauna exist. Damage to sensitive cultural areas e.g. first nations peoples’ significant sites such as shell middens,  is also much greater as the open cut footprint requires the destruction of all in its longer and broader path.

HDD essentially overcomes these problems. A smaller footprint and the installation of pipelines entirely underground with minimal disturbance of the above and surrounding landscape avoids impact on sensitive areas which need to be preserved for environmental or cultural reasons.

HDD can help minimise impacts on flora and fauna and habitats in areas including:

  • Natural rivers and creeks
  • Bays
  • Protected wetlands
  • Endangered wildlife habitats
  • Culturally sensitive sites
  • Vital agricultural soil
  • Railway lines
  • Forests
  • Tree lined streets

For more information visit Maxibor’s website.


This article appeared in the August edition of Trenchless Australasia

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