Mining research organisation Mining3 and the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) have partnered to develop a novel carbon fibre composite rock bolt through support from the Australian Coal Industry’s Research Program (ACARP).
This ground-breaking development aims to replace traditional steel and fibreglass rock bolts, offering improved performance and cost-effectiveness in mining and tunnelling engineering.
Rock bolts play a critical role in underground excavation and reinforcing jointed rock mass.
With the global rock bolt market valued at $70 billion in 2023, the researchers said demand for a superior alternative to steel and fiberglass composites is growing.
Leading the research team in rock bolt mechanics and supporting Mining3 in the mechanical characterisation of carbon fibre composite rock bolt is Centre for Future Materials Associate Professor Ali Mirzaghorbanali (pictured).
Professor Mirzaghorbanali said: “Steel rock bolts are heavy and prone to corrosion, while fiberglass composite rock bolts have limited capacity ratings and can be bulky in diameter.
“The introduction of lightweight and compact rock bolts is expected to significantly reduce drilling and installation costs in extreme mining and tunnelling environments.”
Mining3’s carbon fibre composite rock bolts are the result of patented design innovation.
To expedite their market introduction, researchers from the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Future Materials use their state-of-the-art industrial-scale robotic double-ring braiding machine, automating the manufacturing process.
The plan includes integrating the braiding machine with an industrial pultrusion line to demonstrate a fully automated, cost-effective rock bolt manufacturing process.
The technology has generated significant interest from mining and tunnelling industries.
Mining3 CEO Jacqui Coombes said: “The development of carbon fibre composite rock bolts has the potential to revolutionise the mining industry by providing a lightweight, high-capacity, and corrosion-resistant solution.
“This partnership represents a significant step towards enhancing safety and productivity in underground operations.”
Through the introduction of carbon fibre composite rock bolts, Mining3 and the University of Southern Queensland aim to redefine industry standards, ensuring a more sustainable and efficient future for mining and tunnelling applications.
Picture: University of Southern Queensland researcher Dr Mazhar Peerzada