2012 Honorary LecturerSponsored by Shell

Pacific South

Peter Hatherly

Coalbed Geoscience Pty Ltd Sydney, Australia

A role for geophysical methods in meeting the resource requirements of the 21st century


Peter Hatherly

Despite the temporary impact of events such as the oil shocks of the 1970's, prices for most earth resources were stable throughout the last half of the 20th century. The conventional wisdom was that supply could meet demand and that prices would generally remain flat. However, as the 21st century unfolds, it is clear that this situation no longer holds. Asia, with China and India being obvious key players, is urbanising and industrialising at an unprecedented rate. Resource companies are now being stretched to the limit to meet the demands for raw materials and energy products. Over the past decade, commodity prices have dramatically increased, and they are likely to continue to increase for the foreseeable future. The increases in demand also raise questions as to the availability of resources in both the short and long term.

Within this context, the global exploration effort has increased while companies mining existing resources are seeking to maximise their output and productivity. Mine expansions, the use of better equipment, and a more skilled work force provide some of the solutions. However, better understanding and management of the geological environment under which the mining occurs are equally important factors. In this regard, geophysical methods, by virtue of their ability to map and characterise rock masses prior to, during, and after mining provide essential tools for modern mining.

The use of geophysical methods by the Australian coal mining industry provides an excellent example of the emerging role for geophysics in assisting mining companies meet the resource requirements of the 21st century. This lecture will illustrate the varied applications of geophysical methods in coal mining, including those in important new areas such as estimation of greenhouse gas emissions; as well as, insights into the future directions of mining and the significant roles that geophysics has to play in that future.