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Feasibility assessment, Wandoan Open-Pit Coal Mine, Queensland, Australia

The project

Wandoan Coal Project received conditional environmental approval from the Australian Government in March 2011. Wandoan Coal is a proposed 30 million tonnes (run-of-mine) open-cut thermal coal mine in the Surat Basin, west of the township of Wandoan and approximately 350 km northwest of Brisbane. The deposits for the mine are estimated to be in excess of 1.2 billion tonnes and are located within three mining lease applications covering approximately 32,000 hectares.

PSM was engaged to provide geotechnical advice and assess mining feasibility. With the high cost of initial investment, the client required a high level of certainty around the geotechnical understanding in order to determine the mode of mining operations.

Engineering and technical OPPORTUNities

The first proposed large-scale mining operation in the Surat Basin, quantification of geotechnical drivers in the area were relatively unknown. The was also a high entry cost to establish the proposed mine.

approach AND innovation

Following rigorous assessment and modelling, PSM’s tailored approach included:

  • Implementation of an extensive borehole program
  • Lab testing of intact strengths testing; direct shear testing and index testing showing high plasticity and suggesting the potential for adverse geotechnical behaviours.


PSM was able to provide the client with a geotechnical understanding and high level of certainty to determine the mode of mining operations. PSM’s practical design solution allowed the client to identify the residual risk of using initial dragline methods. It also established a timeline for the progressive replacement of truck and shovel operations to minimise the risk of slope failure and maximise production.

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