Emeritus Professor Paul Carter Hagan

Fields of Research (FoR)

Geomechanics and Resources Geotechnical Engineering, Mining Engineering

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Paul Hagan is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering engaged in research and teaching activities at UNSW since 1998.

Paul’s principal research interests lie in mine geotechnical engineering encompassing machine excavation of rock including the cuttability of rock and, improving the integrity of underground excavations. Other areas of interest in mining engineering include mine planning, mine safety...view more

Paul Hagan is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering engaged in research and teaching activities at UNSW since 1998.

Paul’s principal research interests lie in mine geotechnical engineering encompassing machine excavation of rock including the cuttability of rock and, improving the integrity of underground excavations. Other areas of interest in mining engineering include mine planning, mine safety engineering, materials handling and mine management.

Paul has over 30 years’ experience within the mining industry and university sectors.

Prior to his appointment to UNSW in 1998, he worked locally and internationally in the coal, gold and iron ore sectors in a range of operational, management, technical and research roles.


In 1976, Paul enrolled in the Mining Engineering undergraduate program at UNSW. As part of his studies he gained work experience at Nebo Colliery and later at Kandos Colliery, two underground coal mines in NSW and, at a limestone quarry at Kandos. In 1978, Paul was awarded the Australasian Atlas Copco Travelling Scholarship for mining engineering students that enabled him to visit mining operations in Western and Northern Europe as well as in Canada and the USA. In applying for the scholarship, he noted interest at that early time in his career in majoring in mining geomechanics; this was on the back of a study he had undertaken during the previous period of work experience at Kandos Colliery that assessed the factors contributing to roof instability.

After graduating with Honours in 1980, Paul had the choice of being employed as a graduate mining engineer at AM&S Zinc Corporation in Broken Hill or with an overseas mining company. He elected the overseas option gaining employment with Union Corporation in South Africa for a three year period at several of its gold operations gaining experience in deep level mining conditions over 2000 m. Initially while in the graduate training program he was employed in several technical roles including mine surveying, mine ventilation and mining geomechanics where he completed several design projects at Grootvlei Mine in Springs and later at Bracken Mine in Evander. After nearly twelve months he transferred to the newly commissioned Unisel Gold Mines in Welkom and worked in various operational roles for a period of two years first as a Learner Miner gaining a Blasting Certificate, contract miner and finally as a Shift boss, or shift supervisor, responsible for four mining teams of nearly 100 mine operators engaged in mine production and development activities.

In 1984, Paul returned to UNSW and enrolled in a Masters research program with an industry-sponsored scholarship researching a hybrid-cutting system incorporating high pressure water-jets that would assist rolling disc cutter used on the Robbins Mobile Miner, a newly designed rock cutting machine being developed for the underground hard rock mines at Broken Hill operated by AM&S and later by Pasminco. His research supervisor was Professor F F Roxborough who was a world authority on machine cutting of rock. After 18 months he converted to part-time PhD study during the period 1985-90 holding several academic and administrative support roles within the School including School Tutor, Professional Officer and School Manager. In the latter role he was responsible for managing the technical support staff in the School.

As part of his PhD project, Paul designed and constructed a high-pressure water-jet rock cutting test facility and modernised the Machine Mining Research Laboratory with the latest instrumentation and computerised data acquisition system. This research facility has since been used to assessing the cutting performance of nearly 100 tunnelling around Australia notably the Harbour Tunnel, Eastern Distributor and M5 tunnels in Sydney and the Eastern Distributor in Melbourne as well as mining projects covering a range of mineral commodities including coal, salt, iron ore and base metals.

In 1990, Paul was appointed Principal Investigator of a project funded by Pasminco Mining on a trial implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM) in the hard rock mining industry that was based on the continuous improvement principles developed by W E Deming for the manufacturing sector. The project was undertaken at the Rosebery Mine in Tasmania focusing on improving the productivity of LHD units used in underground haulage emphasising teamwork and a systematic approach to data collection and analysis.

After completing his PhD, Paul was employed as Senior Project Engineer at Advanced Technical Development, a business unit in CRA (now Rio Tinto), during the period 1991 to 1993. This was a newly established mining research centre based in Perth. In this role he was primarily responsible for a project to optimise the use of high-pressure water jets in a hybrid system of rock drilling that would increase drilling rates in hard rock at industry partners that included Hamersley Iron, Coal & Allied and Argyle Diamonds. He was also involved in developing a new approach to analyse the interdependencies between the core mining processes based on use of time from drill and blast through mine production, processing, rail out and port.

In 1994, Paul was appointed Principal Mining Engineer at the Mt Tom Price Operations of Hamersley Iron (HI), now part of Rio Tinto Iron Ore, in the Pilbara region of Australia. He was later appointed Manager – Mine Planning responsible for leading a team of mine planning engineers and geotechnical engineers that developed a Life-of-Mine Plan laying out the business case for strategic capital development that would ensure the continuity of operations for the remaining 15 years. The mine was vital to HI as the source of high-grade feed into the Hamersley blended product. Responding to market pressures and rising costs, the corporate objective was to achieve a single organisational structure spanning the core processes at its five operating sites. To this end Paul was appointed Manager – Mining Systems in 1996 to lead an Information Systems project team to create a single business information system to support the one-mine business concept; this involved creating a common set of standards, definitions and procedures, an integrated repository of corporate data and a standard suite of applications to aid the management of the core mining processes used by the geologists, mine planners, mine operators and mineral processors across all mine sites, an approach to systems integration that was later adopted in other business units.

After successfully achieving this objective, Paul returned to UNSW for the third time in 1998 as a faculty member in the School of Mining Engineering. During this period he was Program Director for a near 12-year period and chairman of Program Leaders Committee that led development of the new collaborative cross-institutional Mining Education Australia (MEA) mining program. He has been course convenor of on average six undergraduate and postgraduate courses each year including rock excavation, mine planning, material handling and the honours project. He has also successfully completed various research projects rock cutting and ground support; for example the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) funded project into the behaviour of rock bolts and cable bolts subjected to axial and shear loading conditions; and, more recently an ARC Linkage in understanding the mechanisms of stress corrosion cracking. In so doing he has supervised over seventy postgraduate and honours research students and been an examiner of numerous postgraduate candidates.

In parallel with research into strata control, Paul has been the principal research investigator leading projects in the rock-cutting research facility. The research has made significant advances in the application of acoustic emissions in monitoring and control of rock cutting machines and in the determination of controlling factors associated with abrasivity testing of rock. He is a consultant to the mining and tunnelling industries to assess the performance of excavation machines in terms of the cuttability and abrasivity of rock. Based on his research he has authored over 120 peer-reviewed papers and 110 project reports as well as other publications and filed two patents.

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