Associate Professor Italo Onederra

Associate Professor

School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
+61 7 336 54780


Associate Professor Italo Onederra serves as the Director of the Centre for Future Autonomous Systems and Technologies (FAST) at the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. He leads a research group focused on improving mineral extraction methods with reduced environmental impact through advanced preconditioning and fragmentation techniques.

Recognised internationally as a specialist in explosives and blasting engineering technology, Italo holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) with honours from the University of Melbourne, and a Master of Engineering Science and PhD from the University of Queensland. With over 25 years of R&D experience and consulting work in Australia, South America, Africa, and Europe, Italo has demonstrated exceptional leadership and impact in both research and industry. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and conferences, contributed to technical reports and books, and co-invented novel nitrogen oxide-free explosives based on hydrogen peroxide. Italo is also known for developing fragmentation modelling techniques, which have been incorporated into commercial software used globally by industry and academia, as well as pioneering the use of physics engines in blast movement modelling to improve ore control and maximise recovery.

Research Interests

  • Application of controlled energetics in novel comminution systems
    Innovation in mineral extraction will require new ways to reduce energy consumption in downstream comminution processes. Controlled energetics provides a unique opportunity for future mineral extraction techniques. Assoc. Prof. Onederra is leading applied research and innovative thinking in this area
  • Experimental work to study rock dynamic reponse under confinement
    In collaboration with Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Assoc. Prof. Italo Onederra is commissioning a unique experimental capability at the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering to study the dynamic response of rock samples under confinement. The aim is to improve our understanding of the extent of explosive induced fracturing at depth which is dierctly applicable to the work in advanced preconditioning and fragmentation.
  • Advanced preconditioning and fragmentation
    Associate Prof. Italo Onederra leads a multidisciplinary research team working towards the development of novel mineral extraction techniques that will have minimal environmental impact. Central to this vision is understanding and developing innovative thinking around the fundamental mechanisms of explosive induced rock preconditioning and fragmentation. Assoc. Prof Italo Onederra is well recognised in this area and currently leads an industry funded project in collaboration with Standford Research Institute (USA) and Imperial College (London).
  • Advanced fragmentation modelling
    Assoc. Prof. Italo Onederra has for many years been involved in the development of advanced fragmentation modelling techniques applied by industry in process optimisation methods such as Mine to Mill. He has developed one of the only underground specific fragmentation models embedded in commercial software that is used by industry and academia in over 60 countries.
  • Blasting to minimise geotechnical risks
    Assoc. Prof. Italo Onederra leads research funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP). The main objective is to develop industry guidelines and practical tools to minimise geotechnical risks and improve blasting outcomes.
  • Alternative explosive formulations
    Assoc. Prof. Italo Onederra has pioneered with his ex PhD research student (Dr Miguel Araos) the development of novel explosive formulations to eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions (fumes) after rock blasting. The Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) contributed significantly to this research as it is an issue affecting surface mining operations. The idea involved replacing ammonium nitrate with hydrogen peroxide as the main oxidizer in explosives. One of the main challenges of the technology is stability over long periods. To that end we have looked at different alternatives such as manufacturing higher density prills using different types of cross-linkers, sustainable fuels and surfactants. The pioneering research has had significant impact with research centres around the world investing in further developments.

Research Impacts

  • Leading international multidisciplinary collaborations that have allowed the establishment of unique experimental facilities to study blast preconditioning and fracturing under confinement, leading new research fields in the application of energetic materials to address big challenges facing the mining sector as it transitions to net zero emissions
  • Developed and published a number of explosive rock breakage and fragmentation models which have been implemented by industry. Improvements in modelling capability that have been adopted in site specific Mine to Mill projects that have added significant value to industry including better management of energy consumption in the extraction process.
  • Part of the team that developed tools and models in commercial blasting software (JKSimBlast) that is now used in over 60 countries. In 2017, there were 264 clients with 771 users around the world. This tool has made a significant impact in both academic and industry based training with the ability to conduct design, desktop simulations and analysis quickly and effectively
  • Co-inventor and chief investigator of leading research on novel explosives that will eliminate and/or minimise hazardous nitrogen oxide fumes during blasting. The development of this technology based on hydrogen peroxide has been recognised as one of the few potentially disruptive technologies in the mining and civil construction industries with significant OHS&E benefits.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Masters (Coursework) of Engineering, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor (Honours) of Engineering, University of Melbourne


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Available Projects

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Featured Publications

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

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