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Ashley Grant




Near Surface Geophysics in the Mining Life Cycle

Ashley Grant, Geophysics & Geochemistry, BHP’s Western Australian Iron Ore, 


Near surface geophysics can have a place across the entire mining life cycle, from early exploration and discovery, development, production, all the way through to closure and beyond. 


The application of geophysics in the exploration and discovery phases of the mining cycle is generally well understood.  During the development phase of the mining life cycle decisions are made that are critical to long term future and dictate the profitability of the mine.  Mining infrastructure such as crushers, conveyor belts, roads, railways, etc. must be constructed in areas that do not pose risk to infrastructure and personnel, and pit designs, dewatering and waste storage must be planned.  Geophysics can play a significant role in informing these decisions.


Optimisation of the mining process is critical to ensure mining remains profitable through the economic and commodity cycles.  Geophysical sensing is used to measure the various physical, chemical, and mineralogical properties that inform these processes.    


To meet the future demands of our growing society and decarbonisation targets, many new mines will be opened and closed over the coming years creating waste dumps and tailings dams.  Near surface geophysics is playing a role to map and monitor these types of facilities, reducing the environmental and safety risks they pose. 


This presentation will explore near surface geophysics through the mining life cycle and discuss the role it has played and the role it could play into the future.


Ashley Grant joined BHP in 2009 and is Superintendent of the Geophysics and Geochemistry team within BHP’s Western Australian Iron Ore business unit.  He has 20 years of experience in geophysics applied across a broad spectrum of applications from mining, oil and gas, and near surface applications.  Ashley enjoys working with a diverse team of geophysicists, geochemists, hyperspectral mineralogists, and data scientists who are focused on delivering innovative solutions to meet our business needs across mining life cycle.   


Ashley has an BSc (Hons) degree in geophysics from Monash University.  His research interest includes the application of high-resolution geophysics to near surface mining and non-mining activities.   He led the team that developed the first log-while-drilling (LWD) tool for exploration and mining reverse circulation drilling and run the first seismic-while-drilling experiment of the imaging of shallow bedded iron ore in the Pilbara.


Ashley was the Chair of the MinEx CRC Project 5 Seismic in the Drilling Workflow (Phase 1) research project which has helped to pioneer the development of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) for surface seismic applications, including the development of a drag-able DAS system for rapid seismic acquisition. 

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