The first major project to be undertaken by the recently-launched Australian Centre for Geomechanics was announced today by Mines Minister Gordon Hill.
The three-year, $450,000 research project involves collaboration between Western Australian and Chinese organisations, and will examine methods of analysing the stability of deep open pit mines.
"Increasingly, mining operations in Western Australia are moving towards deeper and deeper open pit operations," Mr Hill said.
"The existing methods of analysing and predicting open pit stability in these situations are poorly defined.
"This project aims to develop an integrated method of analysing the stability of deep open pits by a combination of physical and numerical models."
The project is being funded by the Western Australia China Economic and Technical Research Fund, and draws on the expertise of staff of the Geological Survey of WA, the University of WA and the CSIRO Division of Geomechanics.
The project will be carried out under the auspices of the Australian Centre for Geomechanics. It will be managed by Dr Chris Swindells of the Department of Minerals and Energy and Mr Richard Jewell of the University of WA.
Chinese participation comes from the Changsha Mining and Metallurgical Research Institute, the Northeast University of Technology, the Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation and the Daye iron ore mine, one of the largest open pit mines in China.
"This is the first major international collaborative rock mechanics/geomechanics project Western Australia has been involved in," Mr Hill said.
"I am confident it will result in methods of constructing and operating safe, economical open pit mines at increasing depths, which can only benefit the State's invaluable mining industry and thus the State as a whole."
Representatives of the Chinese participants will arrive in WA on October 28 for discussions and visits to WA mines.