MANHATTAN, New York – The Smithsonian Museum of natural History has launched a $15 million lawsuit against industrial manufacturer MaxForce Ltd. in response to the destruction of a meteorite collection it loaned the company for research purposes. MaxForce was loaned the meteorites for non-destructive analysis and mineral examination purposes last May.  The condition set forth in the loan contract specifically mentioned that any destructive or damaging tests on any of the 4 samples would be met with litigation for damages to the rare extraterrestrial rock samples.

When the Smithsonian curator, John Deego recently asked for the samples to be returned, he was met with resistance, and it took nearly 2 months for MaxForce to admit that it had destroyed the samples in the name of oil and gas drilling advancements.  According to published reports, MaxForce melted down the meteorite samples, and used the alloys to create 3 new rock drill bits for Wilder & Wilder Exploration.

John Deego

We loaned those bits to MaxForce under the impression they were doing spectrographic and decay studies on the mineral content through observation only.  We were not aware they intended to completely destroy the samples.  Those samples cannot be replaced, and this is just heartbreaking. – John Deego outside the courthouse

The bits that MaxForce had created were designed specifically for a drilling project that Wilder & Wilder called “The Rocket.”  The 12-well project was designed in an unconventional, extremely tight siltstone play just above the Precambrian basement in western Siberia.  The wells needed to be drilled in the area’s ultra short 2 month drilling season.

The hitch was there was only 1 available rig to complete the project.  MaxForce was approached to design a new bit that could drill extremely fast and last longer than any other rock bit on the market.  After a feasibility study, MaxForce borrowed the meteorite samples under the guise of a research study, melted them down and forged 3 bits out of the alloy, and then sold them to Wilder & Wilder for $5.75 million a piece.

We took the bits of meteorite, and forged them into drill bits for a very important project.  We admit that.  But it isn’t right for museums to hoard anything we can use to make money in this stumbling economy.  If they have something of value, they should share it. – Mitch Garberard, COO MaxForce.

Samples of the crushed meteorite that was used build the new drill bits.

The ultra hard, ultra slick new drill bits, dubbed “The Runner”, were used to drill the first 3 of the wells recently with astonishing results.

Only one Runner was need to drill those wells, and there is little to no recorded damage to the bit.

The wells were drilled with lateral legs extending over 4000 meters, in a little over 2 days.  With average rates of penetration around 500 meters per hour, these are the fastest wells ever drilled, and are now limited by the speed of the rig and the rig alone.


We got those bits delivered by hired armed security – I’ve never seen anything like it!  They unpacked them out of the armoured truck and we went to work.  They drill so damn fast, it was like we just dropped pipe down an open hole, we actually had to hold back the top drive.  These bits are going to make everything faster. – Dallas Jackfish, Driller

With only 3 bits in existence and a limited amount of meteorite material for construction, bids have gone out all over the world for the rare earth metal samples.  One of the bits has apparently been sent to auction at a starting price of $50 million euros.  If no more samples can be obtained for new bits, it may well be worth the price.


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