James I. Mathis


B.S. Mining Engineering, University of Nevada, 1981
Ph.D. Rock Mechanics, University of Luleå, Sweden, 1988


Society of Mining Engineers


Registered Professional Engineer (Mining), Arizona and Washington


Civil and mining rock mechanics including:

  • rock slope design and evaluation
  • geotechnical data collection and evaluation
  • bench width, height and face angle determination
  • overall slope design
  • rock mass rating slope design (weak rock)
  • artificial support
  • optimization of slope angles
  • slope/underground mining interaction
  • failing slope monitoring/remediation
  • slope dewatering
  • underground opening design
  • rock support design
  • opening size and orientation (structurally determined)
  • pillar design
  • numerical stress analysis
  • failure evaluation and remediation
  • rock fragmentation analysis (blast induced and inherent)


1995 - Present
Ursa Engineering Surface and underground rock mechanics with specialization in statistical analysis of data, mining method selection
1990 - 1995
Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Steffen Robertson and Kirsten Inc. Surface and underground rock mechanics, mining method selection
1989 - 1990
Rock Mechanics Engineer, Klohn Leonoff Ltd. Foundation design in rock, tunnel design, rock slope design and reinforcement for civil construction jobs.
1984 - 1988
Research Engineer, University of Luleå, Sweden Development of rock discontinuity mapping, data reduction, and statistical modelling methods (Ph.D. dissertation).
1981 - 1984
Mining Engineer, Call and Nicholas Inc. Field mapping, rock strength analysis, data reduction and interpretation, computer program development, and probabilistic rock mechanics designs for open pit and underground mines.

Project Experience - URSA Engineering Clients

Baley Mine - Transpacific Resources (Siberia)
  • feasibility level design of rock slopes for a proposed open pit mine. The orebody is located in a geologic depression filled with argillic sediments containing minor or discontinuous permafrost. Mining will be conducted adjacent to a river in weak rock mass conditions. Design includes evaluation and back analysis of previous failures in adjacent open pit mines, testing and evaluation of rock and rock mass strength, slope dewatering techniques, as well as techniques of detecting and mining near previously underground mined (caving) areas. Ongoing
T1 Mine - INCO Ltd., Manitoba (for Terracrete)
  • evaluation and recommendation of rock support for rock exhibiting mass failure within the crown pillar of a large stoping area. The presence of uncemented sandfill, manways, and potential large regional stresses complicate the design. Completed
Northwest Territory Diamonds - Kennecott Canada Inc., Northwest Territories
  • geotechnical evaluation of sampling decline and assistance with rock support in kimberlite pipes located under Lac de Gras. The decline portal was located on an island (granite) with continuous permafrost. Ongoing
Squamish highway - Graehold Construction Company, British Columbia
  • site present evaluation and discussion of backbreak along highway cut. This to be a basis for financial settlement with provincial authorities.Ongoing
Meikle Mine, Nevada - Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. (Nevada)
  • evaluation of present rock support and ground conditions in the developing Meikle mine. Design of rock support for underground truck shop and crusher excavations. Geotechnical analysis of rock mass conditions for shaft access to a new deposit. Ongoing
La Colorada Project - Exploraciones Eldorado (Mexico)
  • statistical slope evaluation of present operating open pit mine to provide data for a proposed (feasibility level) expansion project. Involves evaluation of existing pit slopes, existing rock strength, fabric, and major geologic structure information. Ongoing

Project Experience - Previous Employers

Turquoise Ridge - FirstMiss Gold Corp.
  • geotechnical rock mass characterization of a relatively deep (1500-3000 ft below surface) gold orebody. This included analysis of core for predicting ground excavation and support conditions in very poor ground, spatial locations of RMR zones through RMR kriging, structural data analysis, and preliminary evaluation of shaft excavation and support condition.
McArthur River - Cameco Corporation
  • geotechnical reconnaissance of underground uranium exploration workings, including geotechnical mapping and rock support recommendations.
Cluff Lake - Cogema Canada Ltd.
  • geotechnical reconnaissance of underground uranium haulage decline, including geotechnical mapping and rock support recommendations.
Deep Star - Newmont Gold (Small Mine Development)
  • geotechnical reconnaissance of haulage and ventilation declines in areas of rock distress, including geotechnical mapping, failure evaluation, and excavation and rock support recommendations.
Northwest Territory Diamonds - BHP Minerals Canada Ltd.
  • geotechnical evaluation of pipe area prior to decline bulk sampling, rock support for decline in country rock and kimberlite, preliminary rock slope design. Evaluation of potential underground mining methods and pit slope design for feasibility studies. General geotechnical assistance. Permafrost area.
Northwest Territory Diamonds - Kennecott Canada
  • geotechnical evaluation of sampling decline, assistance with rock support, evaluation of alternative excavation and support techniques. Secondary project involved complete evaluation of potential geotechnical problems, and solutions, associated with underground bulk sampling. Permafrost area.
Mento Project - Mento Explorations Ltd.
  • evaluation of rock core and structure for ore fragmentation study, determination of mining methods.
St. Thomas II - Philex Mining
  • evaluation of structure and stress around a block cave operation in the Philippines, fragmentation analysis, instruction of personnel in mapping techniques.
La Colorada Project - Eldorado Corporation Ltd.
  • statistical slope evaluation to provide data for feasibility calculations. This heap leach gold mine is an historic underground and open pit operation hosted in highly altered metasediments and intrusives.
10-Mile project - Chemstar Lime Company
  • slope stability design for initial production from a new lime quarry. Quarry was located in massively bedded limestones containing karst features, including collapse and solution breccias.
Alaska-Juneau Mine, Alaska - Echo Bay Mines
  • rock fabric mapping and analysis of abutment stability (including slope stability) on proposed major (100m high) RCC tailings dam, subsidence prediction for proposed new workings, development of fragmentation algorithm for blasting fragmentation predictions.
Trans-Alaska Gas Pipeline Terminal, Alaska - Yukon Pacific Corporation
  • geotechnical field mapping, drilling and oriented core drilling advisement; evaluation of collected data with regards to structural interpretation, rock fabric analysis, and preliminary slope recommendations.
Island Copper Mine, B.C. - BHP-Utah Mines Ltd.
  • evaluation of major slope instability problems, instruction of personnel in analyses techniques; predictions of slope performance upon inundation of slope.
Windy Craggy Project, B.C. - Geddes Resources Ltd.
  • geotechnical mapping of Windy Craggy site with regards to pit slope and underground stability analyses; calculation of mining reserves for open stoping and block caving mining methods.
Kemano Completion Project, B.C. - Alcan
  • analysis of geologic data and prediction of geotechnical problems for the Kenney Dam release facility.
Harmac Dioxin Project, B.C. -0 MacMillan Bloedel Ltd.
  • rock foundation/slope design for pulp mill expansion at Harmac, B.C.
Skeena Cellulose Bunker C oil tank, B.C. - Skeena Cellulose
  • rock foundation/slope design including reinforcement for pulp mill expansion at Prince Rupert, B.C.
Woodfibre Expansion, B.C.
  • rock slope design including support systems for pulp mill expansion at Squamish, B.C.
Pinson Mine, Nevada - Pinson Mining Co.
  • analysis and remedial measures for a failing slope; probabilistic slope design for pit slopes in weak sedimentary rocks, Nevada.
Toquepala Mine and Cajone Mine, Peru - Southern Peru Copper Corp.
  • assisted in probabilistic rock slope designs for Toquepala and Cajone open pit miens, Peru.
American Barite, Nevada
  • rock slope design, design of monitoring and drainage systems, implementation of drainage for failing rock slopes in Nevada.
Morenci Mine, Arizona and Tyrone Mine, New Mexico - Phelps Dodge Corp.
  • assisted in field data collection, materials testing, and design of rock slopes for Morenci and Tyrone open pit mines, Arizona and New Mexico.
Aitik Mine, Sweden - Boliden Mineral AB
  • assisted in rock slope design.
Kokish Hydro Tunnel, Vancouver Island - Western Powergen
  • evaluation of rock conditions for a 4.5 km water transfer tunnel. Included support design, portal location and approach, geotechnical field program development.
Gruvteknik 2000, BeFo, Sweden
  • development and application of statistical modelling techniques for existing discontinuities (joints) in rock to determine size and extent of failures around openings in rock.
Sentek, Norway
  • review of subsidence studies for the Ekofisk oil field in the North Sea. Sea floor subsidence had become a major problem for the oil well platforms. Theoretical studies by, among others, Nick Barton of NGI were used to evaluate the problem using discontinuity theories. This was a review as well as critique of their work.
Doctoral Thesis, Swedish Nuclear Power Board, Sweden
  • development of statistically valid and verifiable techniques of mapping discontinuities (joints) in rock, data reduction and modelling techniques for jointed rock masses.
Laisvall Mine, Sweden - Boliden Mineral AB
  • mapping and classification of roof failures in the underground lead-zinc mine at Laisvall, Sweden.
Piños Altos, New Mexico - Boliden Mineral AB
  • preliminary structural geologic mapping for the Pinos Altos feasibility study, New Mexico.
Ertsberg Mine, Indonesia - Freeport Indonesia
  • analysis of block caving system, including microseismic monitoring and numerical modelling, to determine cave boundary and progression at Ertsberg, Indonesia.
Oracle Ridge Mine, Arizona
  • field data collection and materials testing; assisted in rock mechanics design for a mining feasibility study for an underground copper mine in Arizona.
Dy Mine Project - Curragh Resources Inc.
  • mine method selection and rock mechanics evaluation for an approximately 2000 ft deep, inclined, massive sulphide deposit.
Bullfrog Mine, North Extension Pre-feasibility Study, Nevada - Bond Gold Bullfrog Inc.
  • instructed personnel in rock mass classification for underground mining methods for both core and surface exposures; evaluation of collected classification data, preliminary calculation of support requirements and maximum drift and stope dimensions.
Faro Underground Mines, Yukon - Curragh Resources Inc.
  • field evaluation and classification of massive sulphides in Faro underground room and pillar mine; pillar sizing calculations; three dimensional stress analysis of the underground mine in conjunction with the open pit.
Meikle Mine, Nevada - American Barrick Resources
  • assist and advise in construction of three dimensional geologic/geotechnical rock model for analysis of potential mining methods, evaluation of risks, and sensitivity analyses. Stope layout and sequencing. Preliminary shaft stability assessment for production and ventilation shafts, including geotechnical logging and evaluation.
Stillwater Mining Company - Montana
  • evaluation of opportunities for increased production from the existing mine using different mining methods. Required and analysis of present support and ground control problems with recommendations for improvements.
Squamish highway - Gracehold Construction Co., British Columbia
  • evaluation and analysis of reasons behind backbreak along highway cut. To be utilized in an ongoing court case for a dispute with provincial regulators.


Mathis, J.I. (1995): "A Rock Fragmentation Prediction Model for Mining Excavations", to be published.

Mathis, J.I.; Page, C.H. (1995): "Drifting in very poor rock - experience and analysis. Presented at the 101st annual Northwest mining convention, Spokane, Washington, December 1995.

Mathis, J.I. (1993): "Strength of laboratory-sized coal specimens vs underground coal pillars. A discussion of Syd S. Peng's paper". Mining Engineering, vol. 45, no. 8, August, pp 1050-1053

Mathis, J.I., Robertson, R.B., Robertson, A. MacG., (1993): "Mining below sea level - Design and performance of the south slope expansion at Island Copper". Proceedings of mining into the 21st century, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, August 23-26.

Mathis, J.I. (1989): "RQD prediction using joint center densities". Proceedings of the 25th symposium on engineering geology and geotechnical engineering, Reno, NV pp 313-318, March 20-22.

Mathis, J.I. (1988): "Geometrisk stabilitetsanalys -Oscaromradet LKABs Kirunagruva (Geometric stability analysis of the Oscar area, LKAB's Kiruna Mine)". Gruvteknik 2000, BM 1988:11, University of Luleå, Sweden (in Swedish), J une 30.

Mathis, J.I. (1988): "Development and verification of a three-dimensional rock joint model". Doctoral Thesis 1988:63 D, University of Luleå, Sweden, May.

Mathis, J.I. (1988): "Prediction of joint geometrical properties and possible application areas". Bergmekanikdagen 1988, Stockholm, March.

Mathis, J.I. (1987): "Discontinuity mapping - a comparison between line and area mapping". Proceedings of the 6th international congress on rock mechanics, Vol. 2, Montreal, September.

Mathis, J.I. (1987): "Joint statistics, tunnel mapping vs. large open rooms, a comparison". Research Report, Luleå 1987:18, University of Luleå, Sweden, November.

Mathis, J.I., Stephansson, O., Bjarnason,, B., Hakami, H., Herdocia, A., Matilla, U., Singh, U. (1986): "Heat induced fracturing of rock in an existing uniaxial stress field". Research Report, Luleå 1986:02, University of Luleå, Sweden.

Mathis, J.I., Stephansson, O., Bjarnason,, B., Hakami, H., Herdocia, A., Matilla, U., Singh, U. (1985): "Heat induced fracturing of rock in an existing uniaxial stress field". Proceedings - scientific basis for nuclear waste management IX, Stockholm, Sept. 9-11.

James I. Mathis
1225 E. Sunset Drive, Suite 346
Bellingham, Washington 98226
United States of America Telephone: (360) 738-2835