University of Queensland professor Gideon Chitombo has won the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering award for his work in mass mining 'super caves'.
Chitombo was recognised for his work in developing and optimising low cost, high capacity mass mining methods to access minerals at depths greater than one kilometre and approaching two kilometres.
He said he is working on 'super caves' that can allow around 100 000 tonnes of ore to be extracted from a single panel per day.
The research will allow miners to work safely in ultra-deep mines while still achieving the same tonnage levels as open cut pits.
“I am driven by a desire to prepare the resources industry for a future in which minerals will not be as easily accessible and we need to work harder to extract them,” Chitombo said.
"I’m very proud this collaborative work has been recognised with this award – it acknowledges the value of the contribution of a large team over many years.”
According to Margie Ross, from the WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre (BRC) of the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) at the University of Queensland, "Gideon’s research has been fundamental in improving the efficiency of the mining industry, both in Australia and overseas. He is worthy of this recognition of his research".
Chitombo's research has since moved from a mining production focus to one that also considers sustainability issues such as water, energy, and rehabilitation.
“There is still a lot of work to do in this area but, with on-going support, we can make the minerals industry more sustainable, which will be to everyone’s benefit,” he said.