Mining majors back WA underground safety research

Glencore, IGO and Epiroc have backed research aimed at improving the design of ground support solutions for underground mining.

The new methodology provides the mining industry with a ground support design toolkit to make underground mining more efficient and cost effective, while improving workers’ safety.

The team investigated how modern concepts in ground support engineering and technology could be integrated to produce a new design method that suits operational needs.

This involved computational practices and developing a new approach that was tailored to the underground mining environment, under the leadership of the Australian Centre for Geomechanics professor Yves Potvin.

Modern mine development remains a complex and expensive engineering challenge, according to project team leader.

“Rock bolts and other engineering support required to stabilise the tunnels allowing miners to safely access an ore body make up a large part of the cost of most underground mines,” Potvin said.

“At the same time, however, the principles currently used to design these critical systems are largely based on civil engineering methods unsuited to the dynamic and ever-evolving mining environment.”

The Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia chief executive Nicole Roocke said that the applications of this study would help make the underground mining industry safer and productive.

“By supporting this sort of applied research, the state government of Western Australia is helping to address the everyday challenges of the mining sector and make our industry stronger and more competitive.”

The project was also backed by Codelco, Atlas Copco (now Epiroc) and MMG.

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