Mining3 provides a single entry point to access top researchers, engineers and industry experts in the mining industry. Resources and capabilities are sourced through our research partners which include CSIRO, Curtin University, QUT and The University of Queensland.

Dr Erik Isokangas

Program Director

Erik Isokangas is a specialist in mining process analysis, design, and the implementation of new technologies for current and future mining systems.

Skills and experience:

Erik is a Program Director at Mining3. He leads research in mine process modelling and simulation, integrated mine process design and implementation, and the development of technologies for future mining systems.

Erik previously worked for Metso, a global equipment supplier to the mining industry, most recently as the Director of In-pit Solutions supporting mining customers in the design and feasibility of in-pit crushing and conveying systems. Prior to this, he led a consulting team in Finland, focused on process integration and optimisation for mines in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Erik also worked for Thiess, a major mining contractor, managing and developing new technologies to support mining operations, including productivity monitoring systems, modelling and simulation of complex mining operations, benchmarking, laser-scanning systems, and data visualisation.


Erik holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Doctorate in Mineral Processing from the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) at The University of Queensland.

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Dr Erik Isokangas

Dr Ewan Sellers

Research Leader (CSIRO)

Ewan Sellers is a specialist in rock mechanics with broad experience in numerical modelling, instrumentation, seismology and blasting.

Skills and experience:

Ewan is a Research Leader at Mining3 as well as having an overarching role as the Research Director within the Mineral Resources division at CSIRO. 

He has worked in the mining industry for over 25 years focusing on hard rock mining.  His most recent role was as a Manager – Mine Process Solutions with JKTech in Brisbane. Ewan has led a similar research group in South Africa and worked as a consultant involved with improvements across the value chain in several mining companies.  


PhD in Geomechanics from the University of Cape Town.

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Dr Ewan Sellers

Karsten Hoehn

Work Area Leader - Fibre Optic Systems (CSIRO)

Karsten Hoehn has a research background in physics and engineering.

Skills and experience:

Karsten has effectively led research activities to deliver high-value research outcomes for the metalliferous industry. His performance is evident in a number of important sensor-related research projects, which he led and where he achieved significant industrial impact, including projects for Rio Tinto, FMG, the DET CRC, Gold Fields and LKAB Wassara.

Karsten has extended the capability of the Mining Systems group through his research of fibre optic sensing for mining applications. He has originated new concepts for example on how to utilize optical fibres for strain sensing and developed designs for monitoring roof stability in underground mines using fibre optic sensors integrated in roof bolts. Other examples of novel fibre optic sensing capabilities he researched and developed include 3D shape characterisation and micro-seismic event detection.

Dr Thierry Peynot

Technology Leader

Thierry Peynot provides leadership and oversight for research associated with the advancement of robotics and autonomous systems in mining. Thierry is also Associate Professor and the Mining3 Chair in Robotics at QUT.

Skills and experience:

Thierry joined Mining3 as Technology Leader in 2016 and is an Associate Professor within the Science and Engineering Faculty at QUT, where he has worked since 2014, first as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer. Prior to that, he was a Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, The University of Sydney.

Thierry is a robotics researcher with extensive experience in field robotics, multi-modal sensor fusion and resilient perception in challenging environments. Prior to his role at Mining3 he has led several research programs funded by both industry (in particular aerospace and defence, such as BAE Systems) and research organisations, developing and patenting robust, multi-sensor navigation technology that can function despite adverse environmental conditions.

He has also worked on space robotics projects at LAAS-CNRS in France and at NASA Ames Research Centre in California.

His current research interests focus on mobile robotics and autonomous systems in challenging environments such as mining, and include in particular: resilient perception, multimodal sensing, sensor data fusion, robotic vision, mapping and localisation, and terrain traversability estimation for unmanned ground vehicles.


Thierry holds an Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering and Automation, and a Masters degree in Automatic Systems which he undertook at the National Polytechnic Institute Toulouse, France (INPT). He received his PhD in Robotics from the University of Toulouse, France, where he was also an Associate Lecturer.


Dr Ruslan Puscasu

Technology Leader - Rock Mass Analytics (CSIRO)

Dr Ruslan Pascasu is the Mining3 Technology Leader for Rock Mass Engineering, focussing on mining and allied technology for safe, efficient, eco-friendly and economic mineral extraction.

Skills and experience:

Ruslan’s research interests span a diverse and multi-disciplinary range of topics including – but not limited to – fundamental physics, applied engineering and business. Much of his work has been focused on improving the understanding, design and performance of mining operations mainly through the application of sound geomechanics and geotechnical principles, integrating sensing technologies, data science, and economic evaluation.

With his broad R&D experience and exposure across several industries, Ruslan is adept at delivering strategic, technology-driven transformations across the various facets of mining. He has developed projects for major global mining operators and METS, particularly in underground mass mining/cave mining environments. Ruslan continues to deliver value through establishing and mentoring teams of technologists, building strong relationships, and identifying and responding to ambiguity, risk and uncertainty in complex systems.

Ruslan aims to find innovative ways to deliver minerals faster, smarter and at a reduced cost, while demonstrating how rock masses can be broken, controlled and tracked more intelligently through the connection of extraction technologies, automated systems and data analysis.


  • PhD in Physics from the Swinburne University of Technology
  • Graduate Diploma in Economics from the International Institute of Management

Ruslan serves as a reviewer of prestigious journals and Chairs the IEEE Computer Society Queensland. He is a member of AusIMM and senior member of IEEE.

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Dr Ruslan Pascasu:

Prof Ernesto Villaescusa

Technology Leader - Deep Mining

Prof Ernesto Villaescusa has over 25 years of applied research experience and has worked with many mining companies to develop guidelines for effective underground mining leading to a safe and economical extraction of ore.

Skills and experience:

Through Mining3 Ernesto is undertaking research in deep excavation stability.

He has carried high level geological, mining and geotechnical reviews from a range of companies from medium scale (Penoles, Autlan in Mexico, Hochschild in Peru and Vedanta in Australia) to large corporations such as MIM Holdings, WMC Resources, Codelco Chile and BHP Billiton.

In addition, Ernesto has lead collaborative research efforts to identify, solve and successfully implement global solutions across entire organisations. Technology transfer from research outcomes and underground experiments has been a major focus. He ensures strong collaboration between mining partners and research funding providers to ensure projects remain relevant and valuable to the industry.

In 2004 he was appointed an industry Chair in Mining Rock Mechanics at WASM. The Chair is currently sponsored by Barrick, Goldfields, Barminco, Newcrest and Curtin University.


Bachelor of Engineering (U.de Sonora), Masters of Science (Colorado School of Mines) and PhD from the University of Queensland.

Prof Gideon Chitombo

Technology Leader - Cave Mining

Gideon Chitombo is a Mining3 Technology Leader specialising in Cave Mining.

Gideon’s research is focused on mass underground metalliferous mining specifically using cave mining options, which are block or macroblock, panel, inclined and sublevel caving through applied international industry-funded projects. He has been involved in a number of renowned caving mining operations for extended periods including in Australia, South Africa and Chile.

Gideon was appointed as an international advisory board member (Chairman) of a European Initiative (I2Mine) designed to focus on the technological challenges the European mining industry is currently and likely to face in the future including the exploitation of ever deeper deposits and the aspiration for an invisible, safe, zero impact mine. The project was being carried out by a consortium of 26 organisations from 10 European countries.

He was a 2012 recipient of a prestigious Australian’s Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) Clunies Ross Award.

Gideon is currently working with the mining industry, including supervision of company part-time PhD and MSc postgraduates to develop new knowledge and methodologies needed to effectively and safely apply cave mining methods at depths approaching 2000m or greater. The project designated as Cave Mining 2040 is a series of four-year, milestone-driven industry collaboration and knowledge transfer, producing a paradigm shift in the application of cave-mining methods to increasingly deeper deposits. With study areas beginning their work in February 2019, Gideon operates as Research Director, monitoring project scope and research quality.


  • PhD, The University of Queensland
  • MSc, Colorado School of Mines
  • BSc, University of Alabama


Gideon Chitombo

Dr Isaac Dzakpata

Work Area Leader - Mechanical Cutting and Mine Planning

Isaac Dzakpata is a Work Area Leader – Mechanical Cutting and Mine Planning at Mining3 with exposure to both open pit and underground operations.

Specialisation: Mechanical Cutting, Mine Design/Planning, and Value Modelling.

Skills and experience:

Isaac is a Work Area Leader (WAL) at Mining3 leading a focused team high-calibre engineers and researchers involved in developing technologies and modelling their value for future mining systems and applications. In his role, Isaac provides technical, hands-on, subject matter expertise and project management leadership in a range of applied research and operational improvement projects.

Isaac is a senior mining/project professional with over 16 years’ open pit and underground experience in large open operations with strong international mining background in Load & Haul within gold, coal, quarrying, hard-rock operation across Africa, Australia and Europe.  Isaac has extensive knowledge in mine design, scheduling, capital and operating cost budgeting, mine operational optimisation, improvement project implementation mine equipment application and simulation.

Isaac has expert knowledge of mining equipment application with a recent focus on continuous mining systems and high capacity hard rock cutting in both surface and underground environments. Previously played senior roles in short, medium and long term mine planning teams with strong skills in load & Haul, blasting, bulk explosive delivery and design of Greenfield open pit project management.


Isaac holds a doctorate (PhD) mining engineering from the University of Queensland, in addition a Bachelors (B.Sc.) in Mining Engineering from the University of Mine and Technology. Isaac is also a Chartered Mining Professional (CP) member with the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM). Isaac is currently in the final stages of his MBA in Project Management at the University of Southern Queensland.

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Isaac Dzakpata