Geotechnical Aspects of Coal Mining and Hazard Awareness

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This course provides participants who have a background in coal mining with a basic knowledge of coal mining Geomechanics. It is intended to provide operational staff in the coal mining industry with a basic working familiarity with the mechanics of geomaterials in the context of mine planning and operation. Successful completion of this course will give participants a deeper understanding of the geotechnical issues that affect coal production and facilitate a higher level of communication and effective decision-making between geologists, consultant engineers, and mine management staff.

Course Structure

  • Review of Geological fundamentals
  • Properties of rocks
  • Properties of soils
  • Elasticity and elastic theory
  • Effective stress
  • Stress distributions
  • Strength models a) (general, intact rock)
  • Strength models b) (jointed rock)
  • Rock Mass Classification
  • Open Pit Stability

Course Duration

The postgraduate training course will consist of at least 40 contact hours as part of the 5-day intensive, and will include an assessable assignment designed to demonstrate the capacity to generate and interpret geological data relevant to the course objectives.

Course Venue

Room location to be advised, University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus
View the Callaghan campus interactive map


Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided each day. If you have any specific dietary requirements please contact Nicole Weaver

Course Cost

Full course cost is $3,500 AUD (GST inc)

Receive Early Bird discount of $500

Early bird discounts must be paid by 5pm AEST, 1st March, otherwise full fees apply.

Delegation Discount is also available

If you register 3 or more delegates from your organisation, receive a 50% discount on the 3rd delegate's registration fee.

* The Early Bird discount and the Delegation discount cannot be taken in conjunction with one another.

Who should complete this course

From an Industry perspective, there is a strong need for early to mid-career employees to improve and/or broaden their skill base, to become effective an efficient members of the working team. A Post Graduate training program will provide a comprehensive range of professional geological and geotechnical based skills, which have the potential to substantially improve productivity. Not only will these skills assist everyday decision making, but will facilitate better utilisation of consultants and consultancy reports. The courses will give early to mid-career geoscientists much greater competence, ability and confidence to operate in the workplace.

Entry requirement is a BSc degree or three (3) years experience as a Coal Geologist in the Industry.


The 5-day intensive, will be followed by an assessable written assignment designed to demonstrate the capacity to generate and interpret geological data relevant to the course objectives. There are no formal exams within the course.

What certification will I receive?

A Certificate of Attainment will be awarded for successful completion and a mark and grading will be recorded for the course.


The course may be transferred to a relevant postgraduate or Masters Program in the Faculty of Science and Information Technology. Please contact GradSchool for further advice.

About the Course Convenor

Professor Stephen Fityus

Prof. Fityus’ teaching interests includes a wide range of topics within civil and geotechnical engineering, soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering, engineering geology...

About the Course Presenters

Prof. Steve Fityus has a broad range of research interests spread across fields in geomechanics, geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering and engineering geology. Geomaterials studied include granular soils, soft/estuarine soils, expansive/cracked clay soils, unsaturated soils and residual soils. Issues studied include foundation movements, foundation capacity, slope stability, contaminant transport, permeability and hydraulic conductivity, in situ and laboratory testing and the origin of soils and soil deposits.  He is currently looking to focus his research interests on a smaller number of areas, limited to expansive soil foundations, engineering geology and minesite geotechnics. He has been at the University of Newcastle throughout his academic career.

Dr John Simmons has provided specialist geotechnical services to the coal mining industry in Australia and Indonesia since 1990, with particular reference to open pit slope stability, rockfall assessment, heavy duty pavements, and both tailings and water retaining structures.  He has developed and conducted open pit geotechnical hazard awareness training to the industry since 1993, has participated in geotechnical hazard risk assessments for many mines in the Bowen Basin, Hunter Valley, and Kalimantan. He wrote the script for the 2004 video "Unearthing Black Gold" for geotechnical risk management training of coal mine workers. John has also taught civil engineering and geomechanics as a university lecturer.  From 1990 to 1999 John was a committee member, chair, and national representative for the Queensland Chapter of the Australian Geomechanics Society and he continues to be actively involved in AGS professional development activities. John holds a conjoint academic position at the University of Newcastle.

Dr Daniel Bishop worked with Pells Sullivan Meynink from 2007-2011, and was involved in all aspects of civil engineering geological investigation and design.  This work included geotechnical model development, failure mechanism and slope stability assessment, and pit slope design for open cut copper-gold porphyry and uranium mines in Indonesia, Philippines, Western Australia, Queensland and Central Australia.  He has had similar experience in the investigation and design of open cut coal mines and associated waste dumps in NSW, QLD and South America. He is now researching the geomechanics of multiseam longwall mining in eastern Australia at the University of Newcastle.