To register a newly installed underground mine shaft as operational, a Southern Highlands colliery approached SOTO Consulting Engineers in 2014 seeking a design review of their outmoded overwind safety system.

The team from SOTO Consulting Engineers created a precision system that could absorb the impact forces in situ on the head frame and cage resulting from an emergency arrest. This design offers an improved protection measure against the cage falling down the shaft due to rope failure, through the incorporation of an engineered Fall Back Safety Catch assembly.

Key Features

  • No. 3 Shaft depth 430 m x 7 m diameter
  • 80 men Conveyance
  • Overwind Safety catch system
  • Project completion February 2014
  • Mass of fully loaded conveyance including rope and sheaves 32 tonne
  • Fall back safety assembly incorporating spring elements to reduce impact forces on structure and cage.


  • The Overwind Safety Catch System protects the mass of fully loaded conveyance (man and materials cage), including rope and sheaves, of 32 tonnes.
  • It offers two main functions which prevent the cage from progressing beyond the upper limit of travel, with a similar system put in place for the counterweight.
  • The Overwind Safety Catch System operates in accordance with the requirements of AS3785.1-2005 – Underground Mining Shaft Equipment – Shaft Overwind Safety Catch System.
  • Advanced Analysis ensured all aspects of materials and structure fully tested. Analysis included:
    • FEA
    • Dynamic simulation
    • Chemical analysis
    • Tensile testing
    • Charpy notch impact testing
  • Functionality fully tested prior to installing updates on-site
  • Third party verification of design calculations and documentation completed

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