Rock mass modelling capability boost

A MINING consultancy has gained exclusive access to 3D non-linear rock mass modelling technology and expertise

Coffey Mining has become the only mining consultancy to gain access to Beck Arndt Engineering’s world-class 3D non-linear rock mass modelling technology and expertise with the recent signing of an agreement, according to the company.

The company said access to this best-practice mine modelling will allow it to improve extraction sequencing and mine design throughout the mining process for underground and open pit mines.

Better managed mine stability improves safety and boosts productivity and production rates to optimise a mine’s life cycle, the company said.

Identifying the opportunity to grow the company’s capability in the management of mine stability and safety in varying rock mass conditions, chief executive officer of Coffey Mining Dan O’Toole sought to partner with an expert in this field.

“We were looking to link up with a specialist applied mechanics company and provider in the field of simulation of the 3D rock mass response to mining. Beck Arndt emerged as an exciting option,” he said.

Beck Arndt specialises in engineering for large and complex mining operations, building, calibrating and running large, geometrically accurate mine-scale 3D non-linear models. It is the largest provider of non-linear modelling services to the Australian mining industry and an emerging preferred provider to a number of the world’s largest mine operators.

Beck Arndt’s current clients include BHP Billiton in Australia and North America, CODELCO Norde in Chile and Rio Tinto in Australia.

Peter Fuller, chief mine geotechnical engineer at Coffey Mining said: “Maintaining and managing the stability of a mine is essential to its ongoing operation. This technology is a powerful tool that will assist in the effective management of ground control and support throughout the life of the mine.”

Coffey Mining will formulate and plan the modelling with their clients, working closely with the Berlin and Perth-based Beck Arndt simulation and engineering teams.

Beck Arndt will conduct the simulations and, where required, will be available to assist Coffey Mining with interpretation and engineering using the model results.

“Calibrated with our observations, we will use this information to develop reliable predictions of ground behaviour and design optimum mining approaches for our clients. It will enable us to highlight areas that will be damaged by mining so remedial processes such as reinforcing rock or changing the extraction sequence can be formulated ahead of time,” Peter said.

“The information from this modelling will provide early intelligence on which parts of the mine are likely to be damaged and predictions on how key points of the mine will behave as the mine progresses, including pillars and shafts, infrastructure and access points.”

The new capability extends Coffey Mining’s current consultancy services and forms a natural fit with its instrumentation business, which enables mine operators to keep track of the rock mass response to mining.

Managing director and co-founder of Beck Arndt Engineering David Beck is excited by the opportunities the new agreement presents and sees the cooperation as one of significant mutual benefit.

“Through Coffey Mining and Beck Arndt’s current and growing global reach, this agreement will allow us both to improve the results we provide for our clients,” David said.

“Beck Arndt and Coffey Mining both bring unique expertise to the agreement that will result in better integrated planning and simulation and more reliable forecasts of mine performance.”

David is a mining engineer who developed a strong interest in mathematical modelling while completing a doctorate in rock mechanics.

For over four years, he and the team at Beck Arndt have been developing the application of the widely used ABAQUS modelling package to mining problems.

ABAQUS is a 3D, non-linear computer modelling package that is widely used throughout the world in a range of engineering applications including aerospace, automotive, civil and nuclear engineering.

Beck Arndt identified the opportunity to apply the advanced modelling technology to rock mass simulation, and with some in-house development the result has been a step change in simulation capabilities for mining.

“Very detailed 3D mine simulation on a massive scale is now possible for pits and underground mines. The simulation is efficient and detailed enough to allow true simulation-aided mining engineering and planning, where engineers and modellers work closely to optimise and continuously improve design before mining, or using field measurements and data during operations,” David said.

Coffey Mining will take full advantage of the rapid, multi-scale simulations to leverage the best possible engineering solutions wherever possible.

Coffey Mining and Beck Arndt Engineering will continue to partner on complimentary projects, seeking applications where both mining engineering input and 3D non-linear rock mass modelling for mines are required.

Peter Fuller

Chief Mine Geotechnical Engineer

Coffey Mining

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