Development of a geomechanical risk assessment methodology/model for underground mining applications

Project: Research project

Grant Program

Faculty Development Competitive Research Grants 2020-2022

Project Description

The main objective of this research project is to delve into multitude of geomechanical risks associated with various mining methods employed within the underground mining industry. Controlling geotechnical design parameters and operational factors, affecting the selection of suitable mining technique for a given underground mining condition, will be considered from a risk assessment point of view. Important geomechanical and operational challenges will be investigated as appropriate and relevant to the commonly used underground mining methods.
Given the complicated nature of rock mass in-situ and complicated boundary conditions and operational complexities associated with various underground mining methods, selection of a safe and economic mining operation is of paramount significance. Rock failure at varying scales within the underground mining openings is always a threat to mining operations and causes human and capital losses worldwide. Geotechnical design is a major design component of all underground mines and basically dominates the safety of an underground mine. With regard to uncertainties exist in rock characterization prior to mine development, there are always risks associated with inappropriate design as a function of mining condition and the selected mining method. Uncertainty often results from the inherent variability of rock masse, which in turn is a function of both geological materials and rock mass in-situ condition.

This research project will focus on developing a methodology which enables a geomechanical risk assessment of a given underground mining conditions. The outcome of this research will be a geotechnical risk analysis model, which can be used as an aid in selecting the appropriate mining method as a function of mine design parameters (e.g. rock in-situ properties, design method and operational constraints, governing boundary conditions such as in-situ stress and groundwater, etc.). There has been significant developments in risk assessment models within other engineering disciplines. However, there has not been significant research when it comes to geomechanical design, in particular for underground mining conditions.
The complexities associated with underground mining are due to uncertainties in available design data, lack of sufficient data, operational complexities, design difficulties, and site- and case-specific nature of mining projects. These factors are potential sources of risk to underground mining operations. The novelty of this research project will be to employee the available risk assessment methods into a comprehensive risk assessment model, considering the aforementioned parameters, and provide a tool to assess the viability, safety, and profitability of underground mining projects in a quantitative manner. Moreover, the developed methodology/model can be used as an aid in underground mine design process to meet productivity goals in a safe and cost-effective way and cause positive socio economic effects.
Short titleDevelopment of a geomechanical risk assessment
Effective start/end date1/1/2012/31/22


risk assessment
boundary condition
in situ stress
assessment method
design method
mining industry


  • geomechanical risk assessment , underground mining