2012 ATSE Clunies Ross Award: Professor Gideon Chitombo - Minerals Recovery
Dr Gideon Chitombo was appointed Professor and Chair of Minerals Industry Engagement at The University of Queensland in 2009 – the world’s first professorial position of engagement. Born in Zimbabwe and moving to Australia in 1982, he has become arguably one of the leaders in university-based international collaborative mining research in the areas of rock breakage by blasting and underground mass mining using caving methods.These are increasingly becoming the preferred methods to economically and safely mine large-scale, low-grade metalliferous mineral deposits such as copper and gold. He was instrumental in forming the now long-standing collaborative research involving a number of the major international mining companies in Australia, South Africa, Chile, North America and Europe. The research focused on understanding of the caving fundamentals – caving mechanics, gravity flow and fragmentation, as well as confined blasting. This research has underpinned some of the know-how, tools and practices now used by the industry (both in Australia and overseas) for block, panel and sublevel caving design and optimisation. Gideon was instrumental in the formation of an international collaborative project designed to develop a numerical model of the blasting process for mining, regarded by his industry peers as the benchmark in the numerical modelling of the blasting process. His current and longer-term interest is on future mass-mining methods which are likely to include large caving mines or supercaves and ultra-deep pit mining, aimed at maximising resource potential and minimising environmental impacts.