There are two missions for rock mechanics to accomplish in mining engineering:

  1. to destroy rock efficiently;

  2. to make rock structures safe. If these two missions are completed and mining operations are well managed, best mining results should be achieved.

To accomplish the two missions, rock mechanics faces following challenges:

  1. how to make drilling, crushing and grinding more efficiently, in particular for grinding whose energy efficiency is less than 1%;

  2. how to make full use of explosive energy and destroy rock effectively;

  3. how to manage, reduce and finally predict seismic events and rock bursts;

  4. how to develop various mining methods;

  5. how to reduce borehole damage in deep mines or in the mines with high in-situ stresses;

  6. how to increase ore recovery and decrease dilution;

  7. how to improve mining safety;

  8. how to make rock support designs more scientifically.

All these challenges will be analyzed in this paper. In addition, some topics such as rock mass classification, environment protection and the effects of loading rates, temperatures, and cyclic loading on mining engineering will be discussed.


With an increasing population over the world, the demand on various raw materials has been increased for many years. According to OECD (2015), the amount of materials extracted worldwide doubled since 1980, reaching close to 72 Gt in 2010, and is projected to reach 100 Gt by 2030. On the other hand, a huge amount of raw materials has been lost during mining operation. Taking two common minerals, iron and gold, as examples, the production of iron ore and that of gold (final product in mines) were 3378 Mt and 3020 t in the year 2014 (Brown et al, 2016), respectively. Assuming that the average ore loss in mining is 10%, and the annual production for these materials is kept constant, the annual iron loss and gold loss in the world will be 375 Mt and 336 t, respectively. Obviously, mining industry has to reduce such a huge amount of ore loss in mining production. In addition, the industry needs to improve mining safety, reduce mining cost and decrease the damage to the environment. In order to realize these, rock mechanics plays an utmost important role.

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