Rock mechanics principles have an important role in developing safe and economically viable options to mining problems. This paper addresses the specificity of underground mining rock mechanics illustrating geomechanical challenges in de-signing and operating safe and profitable mines. In recent years there has been a shift in the use of rock mechanics in mining, recognizing that it is only one of the available tools and in several cases the effort is to-wards management and mitigation rather than eliminating rock mechanics problems. Rock mechanics interventions are deemed successful when operations have continued to operate with profit in a safe environment.
Mining engineering is "… the practice, the theory, the science, the technology, and application of extracting and processing minerals from the earth." Rock mechanics, although not necessarily recognized as a distinct technical field, has been part of mining since the dawn of history. Rock Mechanics was only recognized as a distinct technical field in the second part of the 20th century. A popular definition of rock mechanics being reproduced by Brady and Brown (2003): "Rock Mechanics is the theoretical and applied science of the mechanical behaviour of rock and rock masses; it is that branch of rock mechanics concerned with the response of rock and rock masses to the force fields of their physical environment." Arguably a strong case can be made that in fact there is no such thing as "mining rock mechanics." Instead there are mining applications that employ rock mechanics in developing safe and economically viable options to mining problems. This paper ad-dresses the specificity of underground mining rock mechanics illustrating geomechanical challenges in designing and operating safe and profitable mines. This paper highlights the transition in in current mining rock mechanics where the effort is towards managing rather "eliminating" risk.