Photo of Mr Matthew Tonkins

Mr Matthew Tonkins



Current Research

This research takes a holistic view of the excavation industries by looking at the interplay between equipment and the ground characteristics with the aim to produce a ‘fit for purpose’ excavation index to optimise the excavation process. 

With recent changes in technology, such as the development of more powerful machinery, the development of remote sensing technology and numerical modelling for improved rock mass characterization, existing methodologies for assessing the ‘excavatability’ of rock masses are out-dated for excavation design purposes. Significant benefits, through improved efficiency, can, therefore, be made across various engineering sectors with the development of an up-to-date, fit-for-purpose ‘Index’, where continuous excavation in rock is involved. 

This research is carried out by industry collaboration and the analysis of a range of empirical case studies that reflect the advancement in equipment technology as well as productivities within a range of different geological and geotechnical environments. 

This research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC), under the supervision of Professor John Coggan and Professor  Lars Johanning


Research Interests

Excavation optimisation

Continuous Excavation Methods

Rock Mass Classification

Brittle Fracture Theory

Stochastic Fracture Simulation

Value adding through improved data usage

Petrographical estimation of Geomechanical properties



2006: BSc (Hons) Applied Geology - Camborne School of Mines

2012: MSc Applied Geotechnics - Camborne School of Mines


Industrial Experience

2006 - 2008: Geologist -  African Aura Resources / Altus Strategies, Republic of Liberia

2008 - 2010: Geologist - Barrick Kanowna, Kanowna Belle Gold Mine, Australia

2010 - 2011: Senior MIne Geologist / Geotechnical Engineer - Resolute Mining, Syama Gold Mine, Republic of Mali

2012 - 2014: Senior Geotechnical Engineer - Perseus Mining Limited, Edikan Gold Mine, Republic of Ghana

2014 - 2015: Independent Geotechnical Contractor - Various locations