New 3D Analysis Provides Insights for Mine Safety

  • Research challenges traditional understanding of rock behaviour in underground mines
  • New method analyses rock properties in 3D to predict areas vulnerable to failure
  • Cost effective method offers recommendations for improved mine safety

Released today, novel research from the University of Western Australia has challenged traditional understanding of rock characteristics and offered new insights into the potential for ground support failure in underground mining.

Unpredictable rockburst and strainburst events create significant safety hazards for mining personnel, however the factors leading to these events are often poorly understood.

Researchers at UWA’s Australian Centre for Geomechanics have developed a world-first approach analysing rock properties in three dimensions, identifying for the first time attributes which indicate a greater proneness to bursting.

The research also improves understanding of the response of traditional ground support to bursting events, such as the behaviour of bolts holding ground support in place.

The additional measurements can be taken from oriented drillcore obtained during exploration and integrated with regular 3D numerical modelling software to inform better targeted ground support and preventative solutions.

Together with a series of industry recommendations, the approach enables cost effective development of new strategies to improve design and safety solutions for mining operations.

Launched today at the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Underground Operators Conference in Brisbane, the report is available for download from the Minerals Research Institute of WA website.

As stated by Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston:

“This research has significant potential for improved mine safety, hazard awareness and greater understanding of ground support behaviour.

“The safety of our mining personnel is of paramount importance, and predictive capabilities that enable more effective design solutions are critical to ensure our Western Australian mining industry remains a safe and attractive place to work.

“Through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, the Western Australian Government continues to invest in research and development to support innovative solutions that benefit the Western Australian community as a whole.”

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