CSIRO Medal GroupHydraulic Fracturing in Mining

Robert G Jeffrey (now with SCT Pty Ltd), Timothy G Ferguson, Michael Camilleri - CSIRO Petroleum

Kenneth W Mills – Strata Control Technology Pty Ltd

Andre van As – Northparkes Mines

CSIRO has awarded a research medal to a team of researchers for work at Northparkes Mines. The medal was presented to the team at a ceremony held in Adelaide on November 29th. A description of the medal can be found at


CSIRO Medal 2001

A new technology has been developed that makes mining of massive orebodies easier. Hydraulic fracturing was developed with Northparkes to change the rock strength which, in turn, increases the efficiency of the block caving mining method. Hydraulic fracturing in mining has been developed by the CSIRO team in collaboration with Mr Andre van As, senior geotechnical engineer with Northparkes Mines.  Dr Ken Mills, senior geotechnical engineer with SCT, a consulting engineering firm has been instrumental in introducing the technology into the coal mining industry.

Hydraulic fracturing involves producing and extending fractures in rock by injecting a fluid under pressure into a section of a borehole. The fluid enters the fracture created at the borehole, opening and extending it deep into the rock. Hydraulic fracturing provides a way of forming such fractures and extending them to 50 metres and more from the borehole.

When applied to mining, hydraulic fractures are placed to effectively weaken the rock causing it to be more easily and efficiently mined. Hydraulic fracture can be applied to the undisturbed rock or ore well in advance of mining as a method to pre-weaken or pre-condition the rock for eventual extraction.

A parallel effort in applying hydraulic fracturing to coal mining issues has had a major impact in that industry also.

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