Our mining work and expertise
We work alongside the Australian mining industry to develop solutions and technologies for efficient, safe and environmentally sustainable transport of resources from pit to port and beyond.
Mine safety and health
Mine gas, fires, dust and coal burst are major issues in the coal mining industry with severe consequences. We are developing technologies and techniques to mitigate these hazards to protect workers health and safety.
VoxelNET 4D data integration platform
VoxelNET is a unique 4D data integration platform that can create virtual, data-rich representations of real-world processes and places and run simulations to deliver real world insights which can improve productivity and increase process efficiency in mining operations.
Rock fracturing predictions
Rock fracturing is key to mining stability, coal-seam gas extraction, tunnelling, geothermal energy, underground nuclear waste disposal and many other rock-engineering industries. Modern rock mechanics and the development of unique numerical tools is enabling accurate prediction of how fractures will form
Rock mass modelling
In many mining regions, the properties of rock masses are either unknown or the available data are very patchy, which makes it challenging for engineers and modellers to accurately predict rock-mass behaviour using numerical methods. Our modelling technologies are helping miners overcomes these challenges.
Real-time imaging-while-drilling technology, using guided borehole radar, can detect the coal-seam top before the drill bit hits it, reducing losses and significantly increasing productivity in open-cut mines.
Automated log interpretation
Automated interpretation of geophysical logging data can be used to delineate orebodies, understand the characteristics of host rocks, improve mine design, reduce mining hazards, and increase mine production and profitability.
Goaf hole stability
Efficient drainage of methane from longwall goaves is essential for safe operation of a gassy mine. However, goaf gas drainage holes may undergo shear failures during mining, causing significant issues to mine operators. Advanced 3D modelling techniques to study the shear failures are helping miners to design better goaf drainage systems.
In-situ recovery (ISR) of minerals is emerging as a largely untapped frontier that has the potential to change the economics of mining and improve environmental performance. It promises to be a game changer for deep and sub-economic deposits, and provide an alternative to open cut and underground mining.
New and existing mining projects are benefiting from innovative approaches and algorithms to analyse and interpret geophysical borehole logging and measurement-while-drilling data to produce reliable geological and geotechnical models, improving certainty and safety and reducing financial risks.
Measurement while drilling
The variable nature of a coal mine roof is one of the great challenges of underground coal mining, contributing to roadway failures and roof falls. Laboratory experiments with measurement while drilling are providing a greater level of understanding of strata properties, which can help to optimise roof-support designs.
3D imaging technology
Innovation born of mining science is bringing innovation to other industries, including aerospace manufacturing.
Tracking in underground mines
Our wireless tracking technology can hone in on mine workers deep underground, helping to boost productivity and more importantly save lives.
Predicting connective fracturing
Longwall coal mining relies on fracturing and caving of rock strata over the mined coal for safe and efficient operations. The fractures created lead to increased permeability, which may in turn impact surface and groundwater. Accurate predictions of these impacts are critical for environmental assessments of mines.
Mining safety and automation
We are developing a range of automated and smart technologies to improve the safety of mine workers and improve productivity.
Our longwall automation technology saw a 50 per cent uptake by the industry in just two years.
Part of our Guardian Mentor suite of technologies, ReMoTe gives maintenance workers in remote locations access to a virtual pair of expert eyes and hands to guide them through difficult tasks.
Seismic diffraction imaging
Enhancing the detection of small-coal seam structures by diffraction imaging
Seismology for mining
Seismic imaging and microseismic techniques improve the assessment of small geological structures and geodynamic risk management in mines.
Geotechnical mapping of mine sites has traditionally involved people getting up close to the rock face, often surrounded by heavy machinery. Sirovision automates the process to make it faster, safer and more accurate.
Slope deformation radar monitors are widely used in open-cut mining, but they can only ‘see’ line-of-sight problems. By integrating computer-vision technology, we have developed a safer solution, without blowing out costs.
Mine environment imaging
Using 3D scanning systems based on vision and laser techniques to produce accurate geotechnical information of both surface and underground mines, our innovative sensing and monitoring technologies are improving mine safety.
Slope stability microseismicity
We have developed microseismic techniques which detect weak seismic signals, increasing pit safety by improving the detection of rock-fracturing events that may lead to pit-wall collapse.
Rock-mass characterisation is an integral part of understanding complex mining problems. Through our concerted effort and research over two decades, we have developed niche capabilities to deliver accurate prediction of rock-mass response to mining and provide practical solutions to industry.
Safer open pits
Following years of ongoing research into the stability of rock slopes, we have helped redefine large open mine pit design for reliable mine slopes. This research is minimising loss of life, equipment damage and sustained production losses in the event of mine slope failure.
Simulating fracture behaviour
International collaboration on a unique tool to predict rock fracturing behaviour under various mechanical, thermal and hydraulic forces.
Fugitive emissions abatement
Emissions reductions remains a cornerstone concern in all mining operation. Through decades of expertise in coal mining, we have developed technologies and techniques to mitigate fugitive emissions from mining activity.
We develop innovative bioprocesses for mining industries to allow sustainable recovery of resources from low grade ores and wastes, and mitigation of environmental impacts of mining and metallurgical operations.
Understanding the mechanics of hydraulic fracturing and developing new technologies.
Around 90 per cent of Australia’s underground coal production comes from longwall mining. We worked with the industry and equipment manufacturers to develop sensor technology to keep miners safer and improve productivity.
SMART*CUT is an advanced, very strong and highly wear-resistant cutting head system developed for mining and excavation of soft to very hard rock.
Iron ore sintering
We helped a major mining company better understand how different iron ores behave during the sintering process. This knowledge can be used to optimise processes for cost savings and productivity benefits.
Bulk ore transport is a challenging business, with moisture and other environmental issues often leading to incomplete dumping of material from train wagons. We are solving this issue for miners, rail network operators and ports.
Robots to the rescue
There’s been a leak of radioactive gas inside a nuclear power plant, a rockfall that has trapped cavers exploring a new complex, a flood which has cut off workers in a subway system – who are you going to send? TIM THWAITES writes
Sensing and sorting
Our Sensing and Sorting Program, predominantly based at Lucas Heights on Dharawal Country, develops advanced X-ray, radio frequency and other sensing methods for real time analysis of elements and minerals.
Ore sorter for copper and iron
We developed the world's first sensor system for large-scale ore sorting. It rapidly determines ore grade to cost-effectively sort minerals of value from waste. The technology can significantly boost productivity for mining companies and is available to the international market through NextOre.