Safety net

Prof Yves Potvin of the University of Western Australia has invented a product called the High Energy Absorption Mesh to improve mine safety.


Prof Yves Potvin of the University of Western Australia (UWA) has invented a product called the High Energy Absorption (HEA) Mesh that can absorb seismic energy in underground mines.


Compared with existing products that are used for the purpose, such as mesh and shotcrete, the HEA Mesh – a cable bolt laced and overlaid with a sheet of regular or crinkled weld-mesh – can be rapidly installed and can support heavy loads of up to 17 tonnes. 


It can also accommodate significant deformation, as the cable can stretch over its entire length. For example, a 2.4 x 0.3m sheet can deform more than 800mm before breaking a wire or weld.


As a rock surface moves, it pulls the mesh, which is contained by the cable web. As the cables are solidly attached to the bolts, the load is then transferred to the bolt and shared between all the bolts and the cable.


The product is at the late stage of development with the company OneSteel investigating its commercial potential. The product will undergo further laboratory and field trials to refine the effectiveness of the cable-mesh technology.


Potvin is the director of the Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), a not-for-profit mining research centre at UWA partnered by the CSIRO and Curtin University of Technology.


UWA’s Office of Industry and Innovation is undertaking and supporting the commercialisation of the mesh.