Lead investigator: Katerina Savinova
Project duration: 12 months
Grant amount: $128,500
The spoil piles in open cut coal mines carry risks of failure, so predicting when and why this happens is critical for safety. We will increase the ability to predict these failures and understand better how spoil piles react to rehabilitation.

The objective of the ‘Utilizing Hyperspectral Drill Core Scanning for Geotechnical Characterization’ project is to improve the collection and interpretation of geotechnical index parameters for characterization of the overburden material in open cut coal projects with hyperspectral scanning technologies. This project is led by Katerina Savinova a research fellow at the BRC in collaboration with Dr Karina Barbosa (JKMRC) and Dr Sandra Rodrigues (SEES). A sum of $128,500 was approved by ACARP to conduct this research over a 12-month long period.
This research will contribute to enhanced prediction of low-wall and high-wall failures, as well as the overall rehabilitation behaviour of the generated coal mine spoil piles. Ultimately, such input to the geotechnical assessment process is critical for prediction of geohazards in open cut coal mines. Reflectance spectroscopy (particularly in the VNIR-SWIR and TIR wavelength ranges) is a rapid and non-destructive type of analysis that produces pseudo-quantitative mineralogical data. Recent developments in imaging technology and geo-referencing further increase capabilities of such analytical technique, also often referred to as hyperspectral mineralogical data and imaging, and its application to mining operations. Typical geotechnical tests (e.g., slaking, plasticity, rock strength) and parameters such as fracture spacing, density, condition, roughness and orientation, will allow assessment of the impact of variations in mineral composition, and potentially texture (e.g., bedding, lamination) and structure, obtained from various hyperspectral data, on geomechanical characteristics of rocks.
This research will combine the significant coal geology experience and knowledge base at the University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES) with the research program at the W.H. Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre (BRC) that is applying hyperspectral data to improve overall deposit characterization and mineral processing performance. In addition, geotechnical and rock engineering expertise will be sourced from the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC).