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SRK introduces a dedicated Australian numerical modelling team

ยท 500 words, 2 min read

SRK Consulting has brought together international numerical modelling experts to create a dedicated group set to service the needs of Australian clients.

SRK is confident that it is one of the first consultancies in the country to have a local team offering unique numerical modelling solutions to complex geological problems that cannot be solved using traditional methods.

The Australian group will be headed from Perth by Dr Nicolás Agustín Labanda, with support from consultants in other Australian and international offices.

Dr Labanda, who has relocated from Argentina, said SRK’s consultants were continually striving to be ‘the best in their fields’. He has 10 years of industry and academic experience in numerical modelling, data analysis, risk quantification and computational simulation of physical processes across mining and infrastructure projects in the Americas, Africa and Oceania.

‘Our team around the world is deeply connected to academic institutions where we share our discoveries, and we nurture our future stars,’ he said. ‘As a result, we are continuously advancing the science and practice of geoengineering, as evidenced by the global team’s contributions of over 500 papers, lectures and presentations over the last two decades.’

Nicolás Labanda is joined in the Perth team by Roberto J Cier AAusIMM, who has five years’ experience in numerical modelling, acquiring his PhD in Civil Engineering at Curtin University in Western Australia focused on the development of state-of-the-art numerical techniques for tackling challenging science and engineering problems.

Cier specialises in numerical analysis for tailings and mine waste structures, focusing on structural performance under static and dynamic conditions. He has been involved in engineering projects for mining industries in the Americas and Oceania.

‘Offering computational solutions to our projects helps enhance and optimise our current consulting practices, aligning ourselves to the latest technology trends in numerical simulation and data analysis to provide advanced, customer-based solutions,’ Cier said.

The group will service several applications of numerical modelling, including analysis of construction procedures for ground-structure interaction including port structures, excavations, tunnels, and underground engineering, as well as ground structures such as earth and rockfill dams for water storage, tailings dams, waste dumps, and heap leach facilities. This will also extend to numerical probabilistic analysis, quantitative risk assessment, and forensic engineering.

Ignacio Vernengo, who is a senior geotechnical consultant in SRK’s Brisbane-based team, said the new group was an important step in meeting rising industry standards in this area. 

‘Numerical modelling is quickly becoming an essential tool in the industry, significantly improving the reliability and safety of engineering design,’ Vernengo said. ‘SRK is a global leader in the field and I believe that having a focused Australian team will expand on our goal to provide high-value, distinctive engineering to our clients.’

Argentina-based principal geotechnical engineer, Dr Alejo Sfriso, who is an expert in the application of numerical methods for geotechnical design and analysis, said it was timely the burgeoning Australian mining industry could now have locally based numerical modelling experts to service their needs.
‘Dealing with the unknown has become explicit in high-end engineering,’ Sfriso said.

‘The old idea of grouping all sources of uncertainty – arising from data variability, model assumptions, and statistical error in input data – into a “Factor of Safety” has shown its (fatal) limitations.’

Juan Ayala, another addition to the Perth team and a specialist in geotechnical engineering for mining and hydro-electric projects agrees with the importance of robust data. He is a PhD candidate that has been involved in rock, soils and tailings characterisation, laboratory and in situ testing, and has experienced the benefit of offering numerical modelling to complex projects.

‘Our numerical team has developed robust tools and procedures capable of bridging those uncertainties, dealing with the unknown and providing accurate solutions in high-end engineering projects,’ said Ayala.

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