Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Sungsoon Mo, Chengguo Zhang, Ismet Canbulat and Paul Hagan, A Review of Highwall Mining Experience and Practice, in Naj Aziz and Bob Kininmonth (eds.), Proceedings of the 16th Coal Operators' Conference, Mining Engineering, University of Wollongong, 10-12 February 2016, 522-530.


The highwall mining method originated in the USA in the 1940s. The aim of the method was to recover coal from a surface mine that has reached its economic limit. The coal is accessed at the base of the highwall from where a series of parallel entries are driven into the coal seam. Since 1991, highwall mining has been commercially used in Australia in approximately 40 pits at 17 coal mines (Christensen, 2004). Highwall mining provides opportunities to extract additional reserves with high productivity compared to underground operations and conventional surface operations. Therefore, some of open cut mines may consider adopting highwall mining as an alternative mining system when uneconomic conditions are expected due to higher stripping ratios. This paper reviews the highwall mining experience and design practices with an emphasis on geotechnical considerations. In addition, the relevant design issues for future research topics and challenges on highwall mining are discussed to enhance both the productivity and mine safety from the geotechnical point of view.