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Autonomous Sensors for Groundwater in Spoil Dumps

Mining3 - project 2

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Open Posted: 24 Oct 19. Closes: 15 Jan 20 Available: Semester 1 (Feb - Jun)

Semester 1 2020 project (February start). Could be a Sem1+2 project if thesis/Masters project enrolment is possible across both semesters.

** UQ students only **


Suited to: final year undergrad or Master of Electrical or Mechatronics Engineering students (UQ). If you are selected, the project will be your final year thesis / Masters project topic so you must be eligible to enrol in the appropriate unit/s during Semester 1 2020.

The successful applicant will receive a $3,000 scholarship + academic credit for enrolment/assessment (4units - UQ ITEE).  

If selected, you must be available to work on the project onsite for 3 days/week during Semester 1 2020 (working around lecture timetable).

APPLICANTS NOTE: you must include your academic transcript/s inside your resume - unofficial transcript for current degree + transcript for past degree - Masters students) + your student ID number.  Combine your resume and transcript/s into one doc/pdf.  We cannot progress your application until you provide this info in your resume.

For UQ ITEE students - you must have a study plan approved before your application can be accepted by CEED - to ensure you can enrol in the correct thesis/project unit for a CEED project. You must make an appointment with an academic advisor to have your study plan reviewed and approved.  

Contact: Dr Alex Pudmenzky -  [email protected] ASAP.

Location: Pinjarra Hills QLD
Categories: Electrical Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering

Project Background / Description

Integrity and stability of a mine spoil dump or tailings dam can be weakened, by factors including abnormal pore pressures and movement induced by ground water permeating the embankment or the foundation of these structures. These factors greatly affect the design, layout, safety and potential for slope failure to affect surrounding areas.

The onset of unwanted ground water-dependent responses are difficult to monitor, pervasively and autonomously, using the techniques of ground-monitoring and instrumentation currently available.

This project aims to design and validate a component of a prototype system installed in these structures, and communicating the health of the structure modelled from sensor data.


Mining3 is a world-leading research organisation, directed by its global mining industry members to develop and deliver transformational technology to improve the productivity, sustainability, and safety of the mining industry. 

Our world-class researchers and engineers develop tangible solutions to industry-identified challenges using both fundamental and applied research, while leveraging our extensive history and acquired knowledge.

By bringing industry and research expertise together, we collaboratively accelerate the delivery of real-world solutions from our research, ensuring they are available to the market as rapidly and effectively as possible.

Objectives / Tasks / Project Outcomes

The project will focus on one of the following areas;

  1. Assisting the development and validation of an autonomous sensor system advancing the groundwater pressure, movement and validating sensors identified by research for improved monitoring of slope stability for spoil dumps and embankment stability for tailings dams,

  2. Conducting of a field-term trial to monitor the pressures and movement of a spoil pile and predict instability.

  3. Enchasing the communications to facilitate a drone payload

  4. Investigation of geotechnical models from the field data to provide information and certainty on spoil dump or tailing dam stability, and develop a reporting and alarm system to notify of increased or high risk

The deliverables are, as required;

  1. System improvement, and implementation of prototypes. Including modeling of the communication system and through-the-earth communications.

  2. An investigation of advanced data acquisition methods including drones for data acquisition.

  3. Verification and validation and field trialling of system, and analysis of performance.


Overall project is supported by Mining3, Tier 1 Miners, and Australian Coal Industry Research fund.

Skills / Experience Required

Mining3 would prefer a Masters level Electrical (or Mechatronics) Engineering student with some background in circuit design, data analysis, firmware.

This project will develop a communications system capable of communicating subsurface pressure data to a receiver mounted on a drone.

The project will focus on;

  • Analysing and modelling communication schemes for high attenuation channels; and environmental and drone noise.

  • Implementation and refining of C/C++ firmware for drone and subsurface datalogger

  • System hardware development for drone payload and sub-surface data logger

  • Development of drone payload and subcircuit datalogger circuits in Altium and and manufacturing PCBs


The company will be looking for students who can demonstrate they have skills / experience with the above technologies (via studies, academic projects, internships, or employment). Please highlight such experience in your resume - or a cover letter.

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