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An Overview of Surface Rock Support for Deformable Ground Conditions


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Author V Louchnikov, M P Sandy, O Watson, M Orunesu and V Eremenko


Surface support is a key component of most ground support systems which are
applied as a means of reducing the risk of rockfall occurrence and maintaining
serviceability of mine development. Surface support has two primary

  • distributing the applied load throughout the system by providing connection between rock bolts

  • retaining smaller rocks that unravel between rock bolts.

Confinement is also provided to the rock mass, which may increase its capacity to resist further degradation or loosening.

Surface support has been routinely installed in most underground mines around the world for many years, yet the operators are still not always certain which type is best suited for deformable ground conditions. A number of factors need to be taken into consideration prior to selecting the type of surface support liner, such as its capacity, availability, practicality of installation, manual handling and loading conditions (static or dynamic) to ensure the system’s optimal performance in terms of safety and costs.

This paper presents an overview of the surface support types currently used in underground mines in Australia. Shotcrete, weld mesh, high-tensile chainlink mesh, reinforced weld mesh and high energy absorption (HEA) mesh are discussed. A detailed description of each system is provided in terms of capacity, energy absorption, installation cycle and costs. The cost of each system has been normalised to the units of energy absorbed. The information presented in this paper can be used by underground operators as a reference guide when deciding on suitable surface support type for deformable ground conditions.


Louchnikov, V, Sandy, M P, Watson, O, Orunesu, M and
Eremenko, V, 2014. An overview of surface rock support for deformable ground
conditions, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference
, pp 57–66 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: