Expertise – Mass mining/engineering processes
Dr Gideon Chitombo recently appointed as Professor and Chair of Minerals Industry Engagement is the Technical Director of the Mass Mining Technology (MMT) project. The MMT project followed the International Caving Study (ICS) formed in conjunction with the industry including acknowledged mining experts Dr Dennis Laubscher and Dr Alan Guest (former De Beers) with Itasca USA as a major research partner. The two projects have been focusing on critical reviews of conventional caving design approaches, collation of common caving practice, and more importantly the understanding of the caving fundamentals which are caving mechanics, gravity flow, fragmentation as well as confined blasting as applied to sublevel caving.
Dr Chitombo was also instrumental in the formation of the Hybrid Stress Blasting Model (HSBM) designed to develop a numerical model of the blasting process which combines a detonation code to a geomechanical code based on the Itasca PFC3D code.
His current and long-term interest is on future mass mining methods which are likely to include large cave mines (Supercaves), ultra-deep pits and well as in-place mineral recoveries. His other interest continues to be on fundamentals of rock breakage and damage.
Professor Gideon Chitombo, based at the WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre (BRC), Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) at The University of Queensland, received the ATSE Clunies Ross Award on Thursday 14th June 2012 for his contribution to improving efficiency and effectiveness of mineral extraction. He also serves as a member of European Programme for " Innovative Technologies and Concepts for the Intelligent Deep Mine of the Future".
As the world searches beyond its shallow ore deposits, Professor Chitombo is working with the mining industry to develop and optimize low cost, high capacity mass mining methods to access minerals at depths of greater than 1,000m and approaching 2,000m.