Associate Professor Italo Onederra

Associate Professor

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


Dr Onederra is an Associate Professor at The School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering of the University of Queensland and an internationally recognised expert in explosives and advanced blasting engineering. Dr Onederra holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) with Honours from the University of Melbourne, Masters of Engineering Science and PhD from the University of Queensland. He has over 20 years of experience in the field of explosives engineering, blast design & analysis, performance monitoring and process optimisation. He has been actively involved in R&D and expert consulting in several mining operations and associated clients in Australia, South America, Africa and Europe. Dr Onederra has been actively engaged with industry through a wide network of contacts in Australia and Overseas, particularly Latin America given his background and ability to communicate in Spanish at the corporate, technical and operational levels.

Over the years Dr Onederra has been recognised for contributions in blast performance monitoring, applied modelling and process optimisation. He has developed predictive fragmentation modelling tools that have been successfully embedded in commercial software that is now used by industry in over 60 countries. He has a strong record of publications in international conferences and top-rated mining engineering journals. In 2014 he was awarded the Douglas Hay Medal from the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining (UK) for the best journal publication contributing to the further understanding of confined blasting techniques such as preconditioning and de-stressing.

Recently Dr Onederra established a research group that is leading the development of novel explosives that can eliminate hazardous nitrogen oxide fumes. The development of this technology has been supported by industry and recognised as one that could potentially disrupt the well-established ammonium nitrate based industry. The application of this new technology is expected to span across mining and civil construction industries.

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

My area of expertise is in the science of explosive rock breakage, together with the development and implementation of advanced blasting engineering technologies. My research focusses on novel explosive formulations to minimise environmental impacts and maximise performance; development and application of advanced sensors and monitoring techniques; and engineering design and modelling tools to improve safety productivity and minimise the energy footprint of mining activities.


  • PhD, The University of Queensland
  • Master of Engineering, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), 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

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

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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