In the past, many contracting companies in South Africa ran their own in-house training facilities where they trained their staff on practical aspects of exploration and production drilling. The focus was exclusively on training their own employees and no attempt to widen their influence or address wider industry requirements was made.
In an effort to standardise training in the drilling industry the National Diploma: Drilling Practice was designed and launched in 1989. Colin Rice chaired the committee responsible for the design of the programme, generation of course material and its implementation. The National Diploma was offered by Technikon SA as a distance-learning qualification and was aimed at qualifying Supervisors and Junior Managers in the industry. Unfortunately the Diploma was not well supported, mainly because contracting companies could not see the value of having qualified staff. A change in the structure of tertiary institutions lead to Technikon SA being absorbed into Unisa and so the qualification is no longer offered. Therefore, there is currently no nationally recognised Driller training qualification in South Africa.
Since 2005 mining companies have put increasing pressure on exploration contractors to comply with all aspects of the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996. A critical requirement of the Mine Health and Safety Act is the requirement to ensure that all contractor staff are competent to perform their day-to-day work.
In March 2010, Colin Rice of Colin Rice Exploration and Training (Pty) Ltd., convened a meeting of major exploration drilling contractors and supply companies to discuss an industry response to the requirements of the Mine Health and Safety Act. The result of this meeting was the formation of DICASA as a voluntary association.
The initial membership of DICASA consisted of seven founder member companies, the current membership now stands at approximately twenty five member companies.
The initial focus was to develop a Certification Framework for Drillers and Drill Rig Assistants, in order to prioritise the certification of site operational staff. DICASA intends to develop a certification framework for Supervisors as well.