New mine safety research project launches in Victoria

A new high-tech research project focused on open cut mine safety has launched in Victoria’s LaTrobe Valley.

The $2.2 million ‘Batter Stability project’ was unveiled by Victorian minister for energy and resources, Lily D’Ambrosio, at Energy Australia’s Yallourn brown coal mine.

The project focuses on geotechnical and hydrogeological studies of mine batters, the sloping pit walls between the top of the mine and the pit floor.

These slopes are known to become unstable due to the interaction of surface and ground water levels, excavation work, and the underlying structure and strength of the site’s soil and rocks.

In worst case scenarios, the interaction of these factors could cause a slope collapse or create a sink hole, endangering workers and potentially shutting the mine down.

In 2008, 2012 and 2013, the Yallourn coal mine suffered flooding and wall collapses due to these interactions.

The safety project itself arose from Victoria’s independent mining Technical Review Board’s recommendations to study the risk factors that affect batter stability.

Findings from the project will be rolled out across all of the state’s open pit coal mines.

“The findings from this research project will be used to make open cut mining in Victoria safer for workers and the community,” D’Ambrosio said.

“This partnership between the Andrews Labor Government, Federation University and Energy Australia is a great example of how we can work together to make mining operations in Victoria among the safest and most sustainable in the world.”

Harriet  Shing, the local member for Eastern Victoria, added. “We have an amazing wealth of local knowledge and technical skill right here in the Valley that will feed into this important mine safety project.”

Work is slated to begin immediately, with the project to run until 2020.

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