Strainburst Research Project

Project Leader: Professor Phil Dight

Senior Researcher: Dr Ariel Hsieh


This ACG research project aims to equip the mining industry with support systems knowledge to mitigate strainburst/rockburst risk.

As mines continue to be mined deeper and open pits expand, strainbursts and rockbursts are increasing the cost of mining safely, i.e. ground support requirements, microseismic monitoring, restrictions to production and sequencing, as well as delays in re-entry, sometimes lead to the premature closure of a mine. These problems are a major threat to the future exploitation of deep mining resources. Several strainburst/rockburst risk management approaches are available and are currently used by many mines. However, once the mining method and sequence are determined, the hazard state is more or less locked in, leaving implementation of dynamically resistant support as one of the only short-term controls of excavation damage potential. Consequently, the selection of an appropriate dynamic support system is of paramount importance in managing burst risks in mines. To aid industry to design more appropriate support systems to mitigate the potential problem in July 2016, the ACG commenced an industry and Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) funded research project into ‘Rock properties to predict rockburst vulnerability in three dimensions’ (MRIWA Project M464).

Project objectives
This ACG research project will examine the properties of rocks in 3D covering the pre‐peak and post‐peak behaviour in order to identify where rockburst could occur. Pre-peak behaviour is dominated by rock brittleness and fracture generation. Post-peak behaviour is likely to be dominated by rocks which release energy following failure (called Type 2 or self-sustaining behaviour). The aim is to identify early indicators of fracture toughness and Type 2 behaviour and to examine whether this is directional or not.

Once the rockburst potential nature can be identified, Dight et al. (2013) has shown that the energy from the self‐sustaining behaviour can be related to the ejection velocity, which means that the demand on and parameters for ground support may be determined for dynamic situations.

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.

The research project team will explore
• In situ stress recovery
• Pre‐peak intact properties
• Post‐peak properties (energy demand from Type 2 behaviour)
• Demand for the design of dynamic support

Introducing the research project team
The project team is led by the ACG’s Professor Phil Dight and comprises the following researchers:
• Professor Arcady Dyskin, chair, Computational Mechanics Discipline Group, The University of Western Australia
• Dr Ariel Hsieh, research associate in mining, ACG, The University of Western Australia
• Adjunct research associate Max Lee, geotechnical specialist, Monash University
• Associate Professor Bre-Anne Sainsbury, director, Resources Engineering, Monash University

This team is supported by the following

PhD candidates
• Broadus Jeffcoat-Sacco, ACG, The University of Western Australia
• Ali Keneti, Monash University
• Hongyu Wang, ACG, The University of Western Australia

Collaborating universities
The majority of the research work will be conducted at The University of Western Australia. Research undertaken by Monash University includes the consideration of pre-peak and dynamic studies through the application of geological investigations and numerical modelling in three dimensions.

Project sponsors
• Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia
• Aeris Resources, Tritton Resources Limited
• Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, LaRonde Mine
• AngloGold Ashanti Australia, Sunrise Dam Gold Mine
• Ernest Henry Mining Pty Ltd (a Glencore Company)
• Gold Fields Australia Pty Ltd, Granny Smith Mine
• Gold Fields Australia Pty Ltd, Agnew and St Ives Gold Mines
• IAMGOLD Corporation, Westwood Mine
• Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB, Kiruna and Malmberget Mines
• Newcrest Mining Limited, Cadia Valley Operations
• Northern Star Resources Limited, Kalgoorlie Operations
• Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (a Glencore Company), Nickel Rim South Mine

For more information or for project sponsor opportunities, please contact the ACG. Article references are available on request.

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