Monitoring the Performance of Underground Excavations Workshop

2 November 2020 | Online | Learning Studios 1.05 & 1.06, EZONE UWA, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia

Click here to view the programme

Modern underground mine infrastructures are generally built to minimise the risk of accidents associated with rockfalls or production delays due to excessive tunnel deformation. Strategic mine design, conservative ground support and proactive monitoring are the main tools to achieve this goal. The performance of underground excavations is adequate when it remains safe and serviceable for its entire intended life, without unplanned rehabilitation and maintenance.

This workshop will explore how current and emerging technologies are employed in the global mining industry to monitor underground excavations and provide the vital feedback loop to ensure they remain safe and serviceable.

In recent years, new and promising technologies, including LiDARs, drones, data acquisition and underground WiFi, can be packaged to enable a better understanding of excavation performance. Some of them have shown very promising results and, as with new technologies, they evolve rapidly.


Workshop Objective and Format


This workshop will examine the current status of different, emerging technologies and how they can be applied to monitor the performance of underground excavations.

The programme is divided into two themes:

  • The morning session will explore the technologies focussing on convergence measurements from repeated laser surveys.
  • The afternoon session will be dedicated to more conventional instrumentation.

For each theme, the format will involve a series of presentations from technology suppliers/developers, as well as from end users at mine sites. Both morning and afternoon sessions will be followed by an open discussion with presenters and attendees to share experience and knowledge on applying these technologies.

The workshop will be streamed live online, as well as a physical event at The University of Western Australia in Perth, Western Australia, Covid-19 permitting. All timings are Western Australian Standard Time, and are subject to change.

Click here to view the attending companies

Click here to view the programme


Workshop Sponsors

Workshop Facilitator

Professor Yves Potvin
Professor of Mining Geomechanics
Australian Centre for Geomechanics

Yves joined the Australian Centre for Geomechanics at The University of Western Australia in 1998 and was Centre Director, 2000 – 2019. Professor Potvin has published more than 100 articles and is the editor/co-editor of 14 conference proceedings and books. He has over 30 years of experience in rock mechanics and mine design and has previously held managerial positions at Mount Isa Mines, the Noranda Technology Centre and worked as a mining engineer at Noranda Mines, Gaspe Division. Yves undertakes numerous collaborative industry-focussed research projects and is presently involved with the ACG’s Ground Support Systems Optimisation Project, and the Stope Reconciliation and Optimisation Project. He is currently participates in several geotechnical review boards.


Workshop Presenters

Benny Chen
Commercial Manager – Technology
GroundProbe Pty Ltd

Abstract title: Real-Time Artificial Intelligence Technology for Mining Development Click to view the abstract summary

Mining development globally uses the common design, construct, verify and rework methodology. This methodology typically requires survey verification of the as-built result against the design for each stage of the excavation and ground support construction. However, due to the time consuming and manual intensive process of verifying the construction, many development headings are completed solely based on the operator’s experience. This often results in costly over or under excavation.

Leveraging the latest in high-density LiDAR technology, Artificial Intelligence and high-speed computing can provide the ability for development crews to receive real-time feedback on their excavation and ground support construction. This allows them to minimised overbreak and reduce material usage. This has the potential to significantly increase their efficiency, quality of installed reinforcement and reduce the costs of construction.

This webinar will also present the results from the use of this technology in major underground mining projects, to showcase the significant cost savings achieved from reducing overbreak, underbreak, and shotcrete usage.

Benny is the commercialisation manager for technology in Orica Monitor.

For the last 14 years he has played a lead technology and commercial role in delivering an array of monitoring technologies for the mining and civil industries for GroundProbe.

More recently, his team delivered the Geotechnical Monitoring Lidar (GML) system for underground mining and tunnel construction and monitoring that won the IET Most Innovative Transfer Technology Award 2019, Australian Financial Review 2018 Most Innovative Products and Most Innovative Company awards.  

Benny has worked in R&D for the last 20 years, with the last 13 years focusing on radar and LiDAR-based technologies for open cut, underground and civil monitoring.



Chris Chester
Principal Geotechnical Engineer
OZ Minerals

Abstract title: Instrumentation and orebody knowledge

Chris commenced his career in 2001 with Rock Mechanics Technology in the UK, primarily focused on the development of novel remote instrumentation for use in the coal mining industry.  Since moving to Australia in 2005, he has worked at various operations covering Gold, Nickel, Copper, and Zinc commodities.  Currently Chris is working at OZ Minerals on their Carrapateena Expansion Project, with a focus on building a strong foundation of orebody knowledge in order to minimise risk and maximise value.

Lawrence Custodio
Geotechnical Engineering
Newcrest Mining

Abstract title: Geotechnical Applications of Integrated Laser Scans with High-Resolution Imagery at Cadia East Click to view the abstract summary

Data collection techniques in geotechnical engineering have evolved rapidly with modern available technology. LiDAR and photogrammetry are two of the most popular technologies used to remotely gather information in the field and process the data digitally. These remote sensing capabilities have provided geotechnical engineers with safe data collection procedures by reducing or feasibly eliminating exposure to hazardous settings and potentially unstable areas.
Combining photogrammetry and LiDAR yields accurate measurements with detailed visual information in an underground setting. LiDAR-acquired point cloud delivers high data confidence in joint orientation and drive geometries while high-resolution photographs cater further qualitative assessment. These digital scans also serve as comprehensive historical records of unsupported rock mass and as-built supported infrastructure.
At the recent Cadia expansion project, new development headings are being scanned using the Maptek SR3 laser scanner. The scanner allows the geotechnical team to gather rock mass information, determine drive dimension conformance, conduct quality control of installed ground support and capture deformation over time. The outputs are exported to various geotechnical assessment tools which can influence mine design and processes. This presentation shows an overview of the utilisation of scans from data collection, analysis and towards application.

Lawrence is a geotechnical engineer at Newcrest Mining working with the Cadia expansion project. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geology and a Master’s degree in Mining Engineering – Mine Geomechanics from UNSW. Surface geohazard was his early career as an engineering geologist. In 2013, he moved to rock mechanics, working at a hard rock open pit mine and sublevel open stoping with paste backfill with OceanaGold in the Philippines. He has tackled high ground water inflow, difficult and highly-variable ground conditions and various backfill projects. Currently, he is spearheading the geotechnical mapping program at Cadia using integrated LiDAR and photogrammetry technologies for data to be used in rock mass characterisation, QAQC and stability assessments.




Dr Stefan Hrabar
CEO & Co-Founder

Abstract title: Hovermap: Enabling Data Capture Beyond Line of Sight Click to view the abstract summary

Underground mining presents many accessibility challenges. As mines become deeper, hazards such as seismicity increase. Paradoxically, as companies increase data collection to better understand their mine and reduce worker exposure to hazards, the focus on safety mandates more inspections. Hovermap breaks this impasse by delivering a range of inspection and data capture methods without compromising the safety of personnel. A versatile LiDAR mapping solution, Hovermap helps underground miners capture data in hazardous and inaccessible areas. Designed as a drone payload, it combines advanced collision avoidance and autonomous flight technologies to accurately map GPS-denied environments, such as underground excavations. It can easily mount on any vehicle or can be handheld, capturing high-resolution point clouds when flying, driving or walking. The recent launch of Autonomy Level 2 for Hovermap now enables compatible drones to fly beyond communications range and venture beyond line of sight into unmapped areas, delivering valuable data and insights that was previously impossible to access. In his presentation, Dr. Stefan Hrabar, Emesent CEO and Co-Founder, will cover Hovermap’s latest technological advances and demonstrate how mine operations can achieve significant safety and productivity improvements by using this game-changing technology.

Stefan has been at the forefront of drone autonomy R&D for nearly 20 years. Following his PhD in Computer Science/Robotics on this topic, he spent 13 years at CSIRO where he continued his work on vision and LiDAR-based perception and navigation for drones. He led the development and commercialisation of Hovermap in CSIRO, and co-founded Emesent in 2018 to bring this ground-breaking technology to market.




Geoffrey Potgieter
Superintendent Geotechnical Engineering
Glencore – Queensland Metals

Abstract title: Geotechnical Instrumentation at Glencore Queensland Metals

Geoffrey is a rock mechanics specialist, with 14 years’ of experience in the South African and Australian hard rock mining environments. Currently, he is the superintendent geotechnical engineering at Mount Isa Mines Copper Operations.




Glen Rodwell
Graduate Technical Engineer
Evolution Mining Ltd

Abstract title: The Application of 3D Laser Scanning Technologies in Seismically Active and High Stress Environment – Case Study: Frog’s Leg Mine (FLM)

Since graduating with Honours from RMIT University in 2017, Glen has worked in geotechnical engineering roles across both civil construction and mining industries. His exposure at Evolution Mining includes experience at both open pit and underground mining operations. Currently residing at the Frog’s Leg mine in WA, Glen is involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of dynamic ground support systems in the highly stressed and active seismic environment.




Nicholas Ruddell
Operations Manager
Mine Design Technologies Australia

Abstract title: SMART Lighting Systems for Visually Alarming in Mining Monitoring Programs – a PTFI Case Study

Nick has over ten years extensive experience in monitoring programs, specifically in the mining space. He has previously worked in consulting (with Coffey Mining) and now with Mine Design Technologies. 

He and the team at MDT are focused on providing catered and scalable ground support monitoring systems for all underground mining operations, to provide invaluable insight into the effectiveness and efficiency of the support systems they deploy.




Simon Steffen
Operations Manager
Elexon Mining

Abstract title: Active Convergence and Deformation Monitoring of Underground Excavation Using Wireless Mesh Networks

Simon serves as the operations manager for Elexon Mining, working closely with the world’s best geotechnical engineers to mitigate their risks using the most sophisticated technology in the mining industry. In the past decade he has been one of a select few actively involved in block cave mines globally, and has been instrumental in the growth of Elexon Mining and its technological advancements.

Simon brings a combined 25 years’ experience in business performance to Elexon Mining having previously directed his own software company specialising in the development and deployment of enterprise software in multi-national organisations.

Simon graduated his Masters in Business and Economics from the University of Basel (Switzerland).





Dr Zhigang Sun
Senior Research Officer
National Research Council Canada, Canada

Abstract title: Case study: Ultrasonic Rockbolt Sensing for Better Ground Control Click to view the abstract summary

Recently an ultrasonic rockbolt sensing (RBSTM) technology developed by the National Research Council Canada has been field-tested in three Canadian mines. The technology is meant to be implemented on a large number of rebar rockbolts at an affordable cost and to be used not only for assessment of rockbolt integrity but also for monitoring changes in underground stress distribution by utilizing instrumented rockbolts as a network of ground condition sensors. The presentation will overview the capabilities of the RBS technology and provide an outlook of how the technology may be implemented to cope with specific mining environment and excavation monitoring needs. The presentation will also discuss the potential of the technology for more cost-effective ground control and particularly when applied in combination with some other ground condition monitoring tools.

Zhigang holds a PhD in acoustics and is a senior research officer with the National Research Council Canada. Zhigang has more than two decades of experience in developing customised ultrasonic sensing solutions to meet the specific needs of a variety of sectors, such as biomedical engineering, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and mining.


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