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AusRock 2014: 3rd Australasian Conference on Ground Control in Mining

Report by Paul Hagan, UNSW Australia, FAusIMM, Join Chair Conference Organising Committee

The AusRock 2014 Conference was successfully held at UNSW in November 2014. This was the first AusRock conference and the third conference in the series with special emphasis on applications of geomechanics in the mining industry. The conference was supported by the International Society of Rock Mechanics (ISRM) and the AusIMM with endorsement from the various local and national international professional associations including Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS), New Zealand Geotechnical Society (NZGS) and Eastern Australia Ground Control Group (EAGCG).

One of the objectives of the conference was to discuss solutions to the current challenges in ground control and share best practise between practioners across the various sectors of the mining industry. The two-day conference saw 45 papers being presented covering the hard rock and coal sectors, open cut and underground. The conference was well attended with 191 delegates from 13 countries representing many of the major mining countries.

A series of four keynote presentations were made at the conference by well known researchers in the field of mine geotechnical engineering. On the first day the presentations were made by Professor Jim Galvin from UNSW on the significance of superincumbent strata stiffness in coal mine design and, Professor John Hadjigeorgiou from the University of Toronto on rock support system degradation. On the second day, the two keynote speakers addressed the ever increasing important issue as mining progresses ever deeper underground and has to grabble with high stress environments with presentations on rock bursts and coal bumps by Professor Manchao He from the China University of Mines and Technology and Dr Christopher Marks from the US Mine Safety and Health Administration.

During the conference, tours were organised to the UNSW Mining Engineering Virtual Reality facility where delegates were able to experience the Block Caving module, one of nearly twenty VR modules that have been developed at UNSW in its world leading facility that is used in research and teaching programs. A highlight of the conference was the dinner cruise on the beautiful Sydney Harbour were delegates and their partners were presented with a spectacular though unscheduled lightening display with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House as backdrops.

Prior to the conference, the two workshops were well attended by delegates on Block Cave Mining Simulation with Rock Failure Process Analysis (RFPA) code convened by Professor Chunan Tang from Dalian University of Technology and, Introduction to LaModel by Professor Keith Heasley from West Virginia University.

Contributing to the success of the conference was the support provided by the conference sponsors, with particular mention to Jennmar who was the Principal Sponsor of the conference and DSI the Major Sponsor. The other important conference sponsors included Beck Engineering, Maptek, Quarry Mining, Specialised Geo and Geobrugg. Also important at events such as this in terms of sharing the latest technology and specialist services were the various exhibitors with a sell-out 16 stalls setup in Leighton Hall during the conference.

On behalf of the Conference Organising Committee, I would like to thank all the delegates and their partners, conference presenters, keynote speakers and workshop convenors, all the sponsors and supporters and finally the AusIMM conference management team who contributed to a successful event.

I look forward to our colleagues joining us at the next event, AusRock 2018, the fourth conference on ground control in mining scheduled for November 2018.