Rio Tinto Northparkes Mines has created a professorial chair in geotechnical engineering at the University of NSW.
The establishment of the mining chair was welcomed by the uni.
“This is an exciting partnership that will enable us to develop a world-leading research, teaching and training effort in the growing field of underground mining and block caving,” the dean of engineering at UNSW, Graham Davies, stated.
Rio’s Northparkes copper mine is well known for its block caving method and was the first block cave mine in Australia.
Head of UNSW School of Mining, Bruce Hebblewhite, explained that "this partnership recognises the importance of geotechnical engineering as a core element for successful and safe underground mining.
"[Block caving] is the lowest cost underground mining method available and is growing rapidly around the world….and there is a significant shortage of people with skills in these areas," Hebblewhite added.
Managing director of the Northparkes mine, Craig Stegman, added that "our experience, history and future operations place us in good stead to work with UNSW to share this knowledge with future hard rock underground mining and geotechnical engineers".
Northparkes has previously supported several undergraduate scholarships at the School of Mining.
Block caving is a large scale underground mining method suitable for low grade ore bodies.
Rio has seen a high level of success with the method, especially at Northparkes, which was its only copper operation to record an increase in production year on year.
The miner is also carrying out the block caving method at its Oyu Tolgoi copper gold mine in Mongolia.