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Geotechnical assessment, Burton Coal Mine, Queensland, Australia

the project

Burton Coal Mine is an open-cut mine located 150 km south-west of Mackay, Queensland. Peabody Energy as majority owner, and Thiess as contracted mine operator, had planned work until 2016 with two main operating pits, Plumtree South and Burton Widening. Previously, mining had been conducted in the Burton, Broadmeadow, Wallanbah and Bullock Creek pits. At the time of the project, the mine had produced more than 60 million tonnes of coal and currently produces a coal feed rate of between 3.5 and 5.7 mtpa.

PSM was engaged to provide onsite geotechnical support at numerous Burton pits to identify high-risk areas, identify personnel safety solutions and prevent production delays.

Engineering and technical opportunities

The success of the project depended on PSM winning and maintaining the support of the workforce. The team was required to work in extreme wet weather, including minor flooding. Steeply dipping coal measures and faulting and folding of rock mass also presented opportunities for innovation.

approach AND innovation

Following rigorous assessment and modelling, PSM’s tailored approach included targeted use of appropriate monitoring equipment and detailed analysis using slope stability software.


PSM successfully applied theoretical and practical aspects of rock mechanics which met Thiess’s geotechnical advice requirements.

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