Mining and Mineral Processing Demonstrator


Dion Weatherley (UQ), Hans Mhlhaus (UQ)


Numerical modelling rock breakage and granular flow on all scales relevant to the minerals Industry, to provide the fundamental underpinning for development of frontier mass-mining and sustainable minerals processing operations.

Demonstrator project

Virtual Rock Laboratory

Global demands for minerals resources are driving the minerals Industry to develop underground mass-mining operations at greater depths and increasingly challenging geotechnical environments for which traditional mining methods would be unsuitable, unsafe or uneconomical. Key to the success of current and planned mass-mining operations is characterising rock mass response and fragmentation induced by caving operations. High performance numerical modelling is considered the way of the future for quantitative prediction of rock mass response and operational design decisions. Downstream, minerals processing operations are experiencing increasing pressure to reduce the energy consumed in comminution (the fragmentation of ore into powder suitable for processing). The AuScope S.A.M. and AuScope Interoperability components are building a Virtual Rock Laboratory to support fundamental research on rock mass response and fragmentation on all scales relevant to the minerals Industry. Leveraging world-class supercomputing hardware and the ESyS-Particle discrete element software, the Virtual Rock Laboratory provides a simple, intuitive framework for Computational Engineering Analysis involving large deformations (granular media flow) and fragmentation.

Related project

Energy-efficient comminution: A component of the Australian Minerals Science Research Institute research programme, AuScope S.A.M. Infrastructure is being employed by researchers at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre to study the fundamentals of rock breakage, seeking novel approaches to improve the energy-efficiency of comminution operations.

Fundamentals of caving fragmentation: A W.H. Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre research project utilising AuScope S.A.M. Infrastructure to understand and predict fragmentation in caving operations. The research is funded by a consortium of leading minerals Industry companies via the Mass-Mining Technologies Project.

Fundamentals of gravity flow in block caving based on large scale simulations: A Mass-Mining Technologies funded research project at the W.H. Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centreutilising AuScope S.A.M. infrastructure to study gravity flow within block caves, aiming to provide insight on the inter-relationship between extraction level design, operational strategies, and the fundamental dynamics of granular media flow, for increased ore recovery.