Industry Research into Stress Corrosion Cracking
The safe, efficient and continuous operation of mines is vital to the Australian economy, so when mining engineer Peter Craig from rockbolt manufacturer Jennmar Australia, heard concerns from his customers about increasing rockbolt failures, he started his PhD on stress corrosion cracking at UNSW to find out why.
Rockbolts are used to stabilise rocks during excavations and are absolutely critical to the mining industry. The composition, design and failure of rockbolts has been of great interest to researchers at UNSW Mining Engineering since the early 2000s, when they pioneered the initial research in this field.
ARC Linkage Project Leads to Research Innovation
Craig’s research soon kicked off a major project, attracting ARC funding and considerable in-kind support from Jennmar and four coal-mining companies, who provided vital access to mine sites.
“It’s hard to get researchers inducted into mine sites, but for this particular problem, it was critical to investigate the actual environment where the corrosion is taking place - often 400 metres underground!”
“This innovative facility has become a significant resource for the mining industry”
UNSW Mining Engineering Associate Professor, Serkan Saydam
The research has resulted in some great outcomes says UNSW Mining Engineering Associate Professor, Serkan Saydam, who led the ARC Linkage Project and is Craig’s PhD supervisor.
“With the support of this project we constructed a new laboratory called the ‘Controlled Mine Environment Laboratory’.
This innovative facility has become a significant resource for the mining industry and simulates the underground mine environment, including temperature, light and humidity,” he says.
World Leading Outcomes
The research has also provided the mining industry with an in-situ ‘rockbolt corrosion coupon’ which can be installed underground as a monitoring tool for the potential of premature failure. These can be removed for laboratory analysis to determine the corrosion failure mechanism. “Ultimately, determining the exact cause will lead to a site specific and economical solution,” says Craig.
The team is now a world leader in the area of ground support failure and their work has greatly enhanced Australia’s international reputation in the field of rock reinforcement systems and ground control. More collaborative projects between UNSW and Jennmar are currently underway.