Over the last decade, dramatic improvements in spraying technology have allowed shot-crete to become the first-choice ground support in many underground mines in Australia. Before 1994, only a very small amount of dry spray shotcrete was used. Since then, the increased use of wet-mix fiber-reinforced shotcrete has been extremely rapid, spurred along by improvements in machinery, admixtures, fibers, and under-standing the way shotcrete behaves as a ground support element.
Today, nearly 100,000 m3 (130,000 yd3) of shotcrete is applied annually in some 20 under-ground mines. While volumes have leveled off during a recent period of depressed metal prices, it is almost certain to boom again as metal prices improve and new mines come online. Australian mines are characterized by reasonably shallow ore bodies hosted in hard rock. This made under-ground mining initially fairly simple with little ground support needed beyond a few rock bolts. As surface deposits have become depleted, however, mine owners are increasingly spending their exploration dollars drilling beneath existing deposits to find new resources. This has led to ever-deepening extraction depths and associated ground support difficulties.