Safer Mines Thanks To Invention At ACG

A product that improves mine safety recently won its creator, Professor Yves Potvin of The University of Western Australia, the 2008 Inventor of the Year Award in the Ready for Market Category.

Director of UWA's Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), Professor Potvin's invention, High Energy Absorption (HEA) Mesh, absorbs seismic event energy in underground mining and improves surface support technology over existing rock.

The Centre is a pioneering force in providing the mining industry with world-class geotechnical research. Its projects promote safer mining practices, increased operating efficiencies and meeting community expectations for sustainable development.

HEA Mesh – a cable bolt laced and overlaid with a sheet of regular or crinkled weld-mesh – tackles the challenges of deep, high-stress and mechanised mining.

Compared with existing ground-support systems such as mesh and shotcrete, HEA Mesh is cost-effective, can be rapidly installed and can support heavy loads, up to 17 tonnes. It can also accommodate significant deformation as the cable can stretch over its entire length. For example, a 2.4 x 0.3m sheet can deform more than 800mm before breaking a wire or weld.

HEA Mesh is designed to promote efficient load sharing between the surface support and the reinforcement. As the rock surface moves in (wall closure), it pulls the mesh which is contained by the cable web. As the cables are solidly attached to the bolts, the load is then transferred to the bolt and shared between all the bolts and the cable.

The product is at the late stage of development with OneSteel Ltd investigating the practicalities and economics of its commercial nature. The product will undergo further laboratory and field trials this year to refine the effectiveness of the cable-mesh technology.

"The sudden and powerful nature of mining-induced seismic events makes them extremely hazardous for a mining company's workforce, resources and productivity," Professor Potvin said. "HEA Mesh is designed to assist operations to mitigate the risks associated rockburst and seismicity. The ACG is pleased to be acknowleged by Department of Industry Resources of WA for its innovation in technology design".

ACG is a not-for profit mining research Centre at UWA partnered by the CSIRO and Curtin University of Technology. For more information, please email [email protected]

Photo caption for Potvin photo: Professor Yves Potvin, Director, Australian Centre for Geomechanics