The South African underground mining industry is plagued by incidents that often lead to injuries and fatalities. To combat this, the Mandela Mining Precinct has set out to improve safety and drive the objective of zero harm. This project seeks to gain a better understanding of excavation stability and a method to assist in identifying hazardous features in the immediate hanging wall was developed to quantify the risk posed by falls-of-ground in underground mines.

Research and development

The research team identified suitable underground sites. This was followed by the configuration of a prototype multi-sensor/multi-channel GPR system for proof-of-concept purposes. The team conducted a detailed 3D GPR scanning of test sites. Data processing and analysis were conducted to investigate the applicability of 3D GPR in geotechnical applications. The team then investigated the streamlining and optimization of data along with the integration of GPR models into mine CAD software.

This research was commissioned to the CSIR. Researchers involved include geophysicist Thabang Kgarume.


3D GPR can be used as a hazard mapping tool particularly in assessing the excavation stability. When applied in 3D mode, GPR technology has the potential to identify and quantify the risk posed by falls-of-ground; 3D GPR could thus provide input to improve geotechnical rock mass models. It could also assist mine personnel, such as rock engineers, in making better-informed decisions, thus contributing to the “zero harm” objective of the mining industry.


This project has been completed.