ACG Research Projects

The Australian mining industry urgently needs to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the current economic climate. Industry must be in a position to readily exchange information on the challenges being faced and identify and develop the tools and practices that will enable operation optimisation. These developments will concurrently improve mine safety and community and environmental performance generating sustainable growth. The industry in its entirety cannot evolve to meet these challenges without developing highly relevant and defined research projects. The ACG continues to effectively respond to industry’s needs by initiating innovative research that provides ongoing benefits and viabilities instead of “quick-fix” solutions.

ACG Research Projects

Ground support remains one of the largest costs of development mining. At the same time, it is the main means of reducing rockfall/rockburst risk in underground mines. The challenge to the mining industry lies in keeping these risks as low as practicable, despite the increasing hazard associated with deepening of mineral resources. Controlling the costs and cycle time of installing efficient ground support systems remains at the forefront of most mining operations’ priorities. The project entered into its third phase in May 2022.

The first phase focused on probabilistic ground support design; the use of numerical modelling for ground support design; and benchmarking of current ground support design practices. The main deliverable of the first phase was the Ground Support in underground mines book ( Throughout the second phase, new tools and guidelines for ground support in extreme conditions (rockbursting and squeezing ground) were developed, and the use of probabilistic approaches in mining geomechanics was advanced. The third phase will focus on four areas to achieve step changes in ground support practices, namely in situ dynamic testing of ground support using blasting; development of empirical dynamic ground support design guidelines; application of probabilistic ground support design tools; and optimisation of fibre-reinforced shotcrete based systems in underground mines.

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The first phase of the project was completed in December 2019 and the ACG has extended this research into a second phase called Stope Design and Reconciliation (Phase 2). A number of new powerful tools have been developed during Phase 1 to make stope reconciliation more efficient and significantly enhance mine capabilities to conduct in-depth root cause analyses of overbreak and underbreak. Read more.

This project will develop new and innovative tools to assess the performance of completed stopes in terms of overbreak and underbreak. This reconciliation will feed into a new probabilistic stope design approach which will enable improved stope performance with lower overbreak and underbreak. Read more

This ACG research project aims to equip the mining industry with support systems knowledge to mitigate strainburst/rockburst risk. The ultimate benefit of the project to the mining industry will lead to fewer mines closing due to rockburst and help identify approaches for reducing the consequences of rockbursts, in particular, by designing more appropriate support systems. This will contribute to making deep mines safer and more sustainable in the future. Read more

The key objective of this project is to facilitate the widespread adoption within the mining and processing industry of filtered and stacked tailings as a viable, safe and cost-effective management strategy. Read more.

In situ leaching coupled with electrokinetics (EK-ISL) potentially enables recovery of metals from (sub-economic) ores with a significantly smaller environmental footprint than current mining approaches. This project is seeking a refined process understanding of the gold EK-ISL system and explore the potential of EK-ISL on liberating and recovering other metals such as copper.

Key researchers: Professor Andy Fourie, Dr James Jamieson, The University of Western Australia; Professor Henning Prommer (The University of Western Australia and CSIRO); Associate Professor Massimo Rolle (Technical University of Denmark).

Sponsors: BHP; Evolution Mining; Newcrest Mining; Newmont Australia; and the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia.

Please contact the ACG for further information about this project:

The project aims to improve the industry’s understanding of cave propagation. It involves testing of physical models of caving using a geotechnical centrifuge in order to visually observe cave propagation, something which is not achievable in caving mines. Read more

The main aims of this project are to: better understand the process of cave breakthrough into an existing cave and the associated mechanisms; test the efficacy of commonly used seismic analysis techniques in describing cave propagation and breakthrough; and test the efficacy of numerical modelling in describing cave propagation and breakthrough, including the impact of different levels of knowledge on the numerical modelling efficacy.

This project is being performed in collaboration with the Geotechnical Centrifuge Laboratory at the University of Pretoria’s Civil Engineering Department (UPCE) in South Africa.

Key researchers: Dr Daniel Cumming-Potvin; Associate Professor Johan Wesseloo, Professor Yves Potvin, Australian Centre for Geomechanics.

Sponsor: OZ Minerals Carrapateena Pty Ltd

Please contact the ACG for further information about this project:

This project involves testing of ground support capacity in order to improve measures to limit rockburst damage following blasting at the Cadia underground mine. Ground support is one of the main control measures used to limit rockburst damage in underground mines and thus control the seismic risk. In order to minimise damage, the capacity of the installed ground support should exceed the demand placed on it by the rockburst and the components of the support system should work as a unit.

Key researchers:  Professor Yves Potvin, Associate Professor Johan Wesseloo, Dr Daniel Cumming-Potvin; Australian Centre for Geomechanics.

Sponsor: Newcrest Mining Limited

This project addressed technology gaps that currently exist relating to the use of tailings-based backfills and that result in significant residual risks at present. The principles of effective stress will be used to analyse the mechanisms associated with placement mechanics as well as the post placement aspects associated with exposure stability. Read more

Professor Yves Potvin, director of the ACG at the University of Western Australia, initiated the High Energy Absorption (HEA) Mesh project. The ACG has developed the new high energy absorption mesh to tackle the challenges presented by deep and high stress mining conditions and mechanised mining. Read more

Rockfalls remain the principal cause of serious injuries and fatalities in underground mines throughout the world. Mine regulators have implemented new guidelines and codes of practice to address this challenge. Additionally, mining companies have undertaken a variety of data collection programs to improve the situation. Nevertheless, the problem is by no means resolved, and there is still significant potential for sustainable reduction in the number of severe injuries due to rockfall. Read more

This project sought to minimise the financial and safety risks associated with potentially catastrophic slope failures by detecting and analysing the early microseismic warning emitted by the failing rock. Read more

The ‘Squeezing Ground Task Force’ was formed by the Australian Centre for Geomechanics as a research initiative to facilitate a better understanding of squeezing ground conditions and how different mines manage these issues. Read more

The report has contributed to a better understanding of the problems associated with slope stability monitoring, and has produced outputs beneficial to the Western Australian open pit mining industry in both short and long-term. Read more

This development of Sirovision: 3D imaging as a mining tool was initially funded by a consortium of Australian mining companies and coordinated through the ACG. Read more

This project was derived from an initiative from the Maanshan Institute of Mining Research, China, for research into the rehabilitation of iron ore tailings storages near Maanshan and into the suppression of dust forms on the surfaces of tailings facilities. Read more

The report provides an extensive database of information that is an important resource for industry. The findings from the consolidation modelling and from the evaporation studies in particular are extremely important and advance the state-of-the-art in these areas significantly. Read more

Project aim: to thoroughly investigate one of the most promising new stress management techniques that allow the determination of in situ and induced stresses using oriented cored rock samples. Read more