Over the past several years we expanded our software solutions and consulting practice into the coal industry. Coal presents an interesting modelling challenge because of complex fault networks, vertical repeats, folding, seam parting, and other 3D geometrical complexities. Burden modelling is an important part of the process, affecting mine design and blasting decisions that can lead to substantial operational cost savings. A geotechnical hazard assessment system was an additional required component, necessary to manage and automatically update input data such as longwall face location or gas monitoring, building confidence through visual, as well as statistical, evaluation of potentially hazardous zones.

Mira Geoscience ensures fast, intuitive, and accurate 3D earth models, regardless of your data types.

With years of experience carrying out complex geological modelling projects, we are specialists in providing our clients with innovative interpretation and modelling processes. We were able to call upon that experience and expertise to develop proofs of concept, set up tools specific to the coal industry, establish workflows, and implement data management systems.

This resulted in a new line of software bundles for GOCAD® Mining Suite: SKUA Structural Modelling for Coal and SKUA Geostatistics for Coal. These bundles offer a powerful 3D geological modelling platform with the repeatability and speed advantages of implicit modelling, resulting in a modelling environment that allows any fault complexity. Our coal solution provides users the simplicity of 2D grid modelling with the geological complexity of 3D volumetric surface modelling. It also facilitates rapid updates of coal models with newly acquired data.

Forecast of the probability of gas outburst hazards illustrated on a longwall panel - Geoscience INTEGRATOR

For over a decade, GOCAD Mining Suite has had the capacity to integrate disparate data sources into integrated 3D hazard maps for geotechnical modelling and hazard assessment. The input data to these hazard maps can include any relevant data, such as faulting, jointing, drilling, mine geometry, gas monitoring, deformation from radar or laser stations, subsidence, and block models of UCS, GSR, RQD, lithology, and alteration. Combining model-based data integration with hazard computation, we can create 3D hazard maps that can be queried and automatically updated.

Our coal projects led us to adapt Geoscience INTEGRATOR to coal mining challenges. We are now bringing together true 4D multi-disciplinary data management, modelling, query, and expert-system analysis to forecast the probability of coal-specific geotechnical hazards such as rockbursts, floor heave, wall failure, roof hang-ups, and gas outbursts.

John McGaughey is the founder and President of Mira Geoscience. He has extensive mining industry experience focusing on quantitative, multi-disciplinary 3D and 4D interpretation for mineral exploration and geotechnical decision support. Prior to founding Mira Geoscience in 1999, he spent 10 years at the Noranda Technology Centre as a Senior Scientist in their rock mechanics group. He obtained an MSc in geological engineering and a PhD in geophysics from Queen’s University.

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