Authors: Bawden, WF


Cite As:
Bawden, WF 2015, 'The expanding impact of technology on underground geomechanical mine design and operations — advances, limitations and future needs', in Y Potvin (ed.), Design Methods 2015: Proceedings of the International Seminar on Design Methods in Underground Mining, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 3-19,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The data-limited nature of mining geomechanics problems often result in high degrees of uncertainty in design analyses. Greater uncertainty results in the application of higher safety factors and resulting costs. While empirical design methods, instrumentation and particularly numerical modelling have undergone transformational change over the past 35-40 years, with the exception of the introduction of scanning technologies, there has been very little advance in geotechnical data collection techniques. The result is that our modelling capabilities now vastly exceed our ability to characterise fractured rock masses and parameterise design models. The failure to recognise the high level of inherent uncertainty in many, if not most, geomechanical analyses can arise as an unforeseen fatal flaw in high level corporate decisionmaking. This paper provides an incomplete review of advancements in geomechanical mine design over the past 40odd years, an assessment of the present status and a view of where significant advances are required.

Barton, NR, Lien, R & Lunde, J 1974, ‘Engineering classification of rock masses for the design of tunnel support’, Rock Mechanics, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 189-239.
Bawden, WF 2010, ‘Thoughts on quantitative field scale characterization of post-failure rock mass conditions and their influence on underground mine design’, Proceedings of the 44th US Rock Mechanics Symposium and the 5th US-Canada Rock Mechanics Symposium, American Rock Mechanics Association, Minneapolis, vol. 2, pp. 855-870.
Bieniawski, ZT 1973, ‘Engineering classification of jointed rock masses’, Transactions of the South African Institution of Civil Engineers, vol. 15, no. 12, pp. 335-344.
Bieniawski, ZT 1976, ‘Rock mass classification in rock engineering’, in ZT Bieniawski (ed.), Exploration for rock engineering: proceedings of the symposium on exploration for rock engineering, A.A. Balkema, Lisse, pp. 97-106.
Brady, BHG & Brown, ET 1985, Rock mechanics: for underground mining, Allen & Unwin, London.
Brady, T, Martin, L & Pakalnis, R 2005, ‘Empirical approaches for opening design in weak rock masses’, Mining Technology, vol. 114, no. 2, pp. 13-20.
Clark, LM & Pakalnis, RC 1997, ‘An empirical design approach for estimating unplanned dilution from open stope hangingwalls and footwalls’, Proceedings of the CIM 99th Annual General Meeting, Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, Westmount, Quebec.
Crockford, AM, Kalenchuk, KS & Bawden, WF 2015, ‘Calibration of inelastic constitutive behaviour at a late stage mine and the problems associated with data limited calibration’, Proceedings of the 49th US Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium, American Rock Mechanics Association, Minneapolis, 8 p.
Crowder, JJ, Coulson, AL & Bawden, WF 2006, The field-scale rock mechanics laboratory: estimation of post-peak parameters and behaviour of fractured rock masses, Proceedings of the 41st US Symposium on Rock Mechanics (USRMS), American Rock Mechanics Association, Minneapolis, 12 p.
Deere, DU 1964, ‘Technical description of rock cores for engineering purposes’, Rock Mechanics and Engineering Geology, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 17-22.
Grabinsky, M 2010, ‘In situ monitoring for ground trothing cemented paste backfill designs’, in RJ Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Proceedings of the 13th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings (Paste 2010), Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 85-98.
Grimstad, E & Barton, N 1993, ‘Updating the Q-system for NMT’, in C Kompen, SL Opsahl & SL Berg (eds), Proceedings of the International Symposium on Sprayed Concrete, Norwegian Concrete Association, 21 p.
Hedley, DGF & Grant, F 1972, ‘Stope and pillar design for the Elliot Lake uranium mines’, Bulletin of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, no. 65, pp 37-44.
Hoek, E 2007, Practical rock engineering, Rocscience, viewed 1 July 2015,
Hoek, E & Brown, ET 1980, ‘Underground excavations in rock’, Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, London.
Hoek, E, Kaiser, PK & Bawden, WF 1995, Support of underground excavations in hard rock, A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.
Holling, CS (ed.) 1978, Adaptive environmental assessment and management, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
Hutchinson, DJ & Diederichs, MS 1996, Cablebolting in underground mines, BiTech Publishers.
Laubscher, DH 1977, ‘Geomechanics classification of jointed rock masses – mining applications’, Transactions of the Institute of Mining and Mettalurgy, vol. 86, pp. 1-8.
Laubscher, DH 1984, ‘Design aspects and effectiveness of support systems in different mining conditions’, Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. 93, no. 10, pp. 70-81.
Lauffer, H 1958, ‘Gebirgsklassifizierung fur den Stollenbau’, Geololgie und Bauwesen, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 46-51.
Lunder, P & Pakalnis, RC 1997, ‘Determination of the strength of hard rock pillars’, Bulletin of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, vol. 90, no. 1013, pp. 51-55.
Malan, F 2015, ‘Hard rock tabular excavations: historic solutions and future challenges’, Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of Rock Mechanics.
Mawdesley, C, Trueman, R & Whiten, W 2001, ‘Extending the Mathews stability graph for open stope design’, Mining Technology, vol. 110, pp. 27-39.
Moore, E 2014, ‘Technology: underground networks – communication skills’, Bulletin of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, February issue.
Pakalnis, R, Caceres, C, Clapp, K, Morin, M, Brady, T, Williams, T, Blake, W & MacLaughlin, M 2005, ‘Design spans – underhand cut and fill mining’, Proceedings of the 107th CIM-AGM, 9 p.
Potvin, Y 1988, ‘Empirical open stope design in Canada’ PhD thesis, University of British Columbia.
Salamon, MDG & Munroe, AH 1967, ‘A study of the strength of coal pillars’, Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. 68, pp. 55-67.
Thompson, BD, Bawden, WF & Grabinsky, MW 2011, ‘In situ measurements of cemented paste backfill at the Cayeli Mine’, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, vol. 49, no. 7, pp. 755-722.
Vakili, A, Albrecht, J & Sandy, M 2014, ‘Rock strength anisotropy and its importance in underground geotechnical design’, Proceedings of the Third Australasian Ground Control in Mining Conference (AusRock 2014), The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Melbourne, pp. 167-180.

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to