An award has been given to a University of Queensland graduate for his ongoing contribution to mine planning and monitoring.

Mining engineer Dr Matthew Pierce has been awarded the 2013 Manuel Rocha Medal for his 2010 doctoral thesis titled ‘A Model for Gravity Flow of Fragmented Rock in Block Caving Mines’. Dr Pierce’s work has been used throughout the resources and mining industries to optimise production strategies, maximise recovery and minimise dilution by tracking the flow of materials in a caved rock column.

While conducting the research for his PhD project, Pierce improved the level of understanding of granular materials in block and panel mining as well as sublevel caving.

Pierce’s PhD supervisor, Dr Geoff Just says, “throughout his PhD investigations Matt has shown an exceptional ability to remain focused on developing new knowledge of the fundamental mechanics of flow in masses of fragmented rock... his depth of knowledge in both the complex mechanics of particle interactions involved in fragmented rock flow and the practical design and operation of large scale underground caving mining operations were significant factors in his success in improving ore recovery.”

The Rocha Medal is awarded every year by the International Society for Rock Mechanics as a way to encourage research in the geo-mechanics field. Dr Pierce will receive his medal and a cash prize at the ISRM International Symposium in Poland this September.