Researcher biography

Professor David John Williams is the Director of the Geotechnical Engineering Centre within the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland, an industry-funded centre that has attracted AUD10 million in funding over the last 15 years. He also manages the industry-sponsored Large Open Pit Project, involving 10 global mining company sponsors, with current funding of USD1 million per year. He has over 40 years of teaching, research and consulting experience, and is internationally recognised for his expertise and experience in mine waste management and mine closure, pertaining to tailings dams in particular. He was a member of Expert Panel investigating technical causes of Brumadinho tailings dam failure and is on a number of Tailings Independent Technical Review Boards, including for Escondida. He authored in 2009 and 2016 Tailings Management Handbook, as part of the Commonwealth Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry. He is on Working Party for the Australian National Committee for Large Dams Guidelines on Tailings Dams – Planning, Design, Construction, Operation and Closure, published in 2012, with an Addendum in 2019.

David received his BE (Hons I) in Civil Engineering from Monash University in 1975 and his PhD in Soil Mechanics from the University of Cambridge in 1979. His research interests include:

  • Physical characterisation of mine tailings deposition, including beaching, hydraulic sorting, sedimentation, consolidation, desiccation and loading
  • Store and release cover systems for potentially acid forming mine wastes
  • Co-disposal of mine tailings and coarse-grained mine wastes
  • Dewatering and densification of mine tailings
  • Dewatering of mineral products
  • Moisture movement within mine wastes
  • Settlement of coarse-grained mine wastes
  • Strength of coarse-grained mine wastes
  • Engineered rehabilitation of mine sites
  • Risk assessment and cost-effectiveness analysis of mine site rehabilitation and closure
  • Long-term seepage and runoff from mine tailings storages
  • Characterisation of potentially acid forming waste rock dumps
  • Application of high-resolution digital stereo-photography to monitoring erosion from mine waste slopes
  • Mined landform evolution and design

Areas of research