Wendy Timms

Director Postgraduate Studies (Coursework)
Mining Engineering
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 4511

School of Mining Engineering, Room 162, 1st floor, Old Main Building (K15), Kensington campus

Dr Wendy Timms has over 20 years of professional experience, mainly in Australia and Canada, on water and waste issues in both mining and agriculture. She has experience across consulting engineering, government, research and education. She is Director of Postgraduate Studies (Coursework) at the UNSW School of Mining Engineering, promoting high quality education that helps solve real world challenges. 

Wendy has an outstanding record in winning and delivering millions of dollars worth of grants (as outlined below), and in teaching and supervision of projects. She has supervised 6 PhD students, 40 Honours students, and is currently supervising more than a dozen research projects. 

Research interests

Wendy is interested in water and the earth. She is a hydrogeologist and environmental engineer focused on the sustainable use of water resources to support development, particularly in relation to groundwater and extraction of mineral and energy resources. A specialist on low permeability sediments, rocks and engineered seepage barriers, she leads research that develops innovative hydraulic, geomechanical, hydrochemical and isotopic characterisation techniques to improve the management of seepage and groundwater quality. More information is provided in the following sections on grants and current projects with students, staff and colleagues.

Interest in Engineering

Wendy has been always been fascinated with the earth and underground processes, collecting rocks from all over the world. Her engineering interests developed from a scientific background, through projects developing goundwater supplies for many uses. An practical understanding of drilling, rock coring, pumps, flow and failure processes, and underground operations has been gained by hands-on work and problem solving. A strong foundation in maths, physics and chemistry at school was essential, along with lifelong learning of new technical and communication skills.

She has worked for 8 years as a full time engineer on a variety of water and waste management projects in agriculture and mining, in addition to several years in government and research roles. Her experience included geophysical logging of bores, technical assessment of potential impacts including numerical modelling and laboratory testing of water and solid samples. Her mine water experience includes several commodities (potash, uranium, coal and gas), at sites in Canada, the Northern Territory, Queensland and NSW (Gunnedah Basin, Hunter Valley, Sydney Basin). Engineering has also led to opportunites to visit remote and beautiful places, inspecting projects in India, Africa, Europe and North America. She has lived in Canada, Thailand and New Zealand and continues to be inspired by high mountains and deep drilling exploration.



B.Sc (Newcastle), geology major, and hydrology and chemistry

B.Sc Honours 1st class (ANU) in hydogeology

PhD (UNSW, 2001) in environmental engineering

Plus in-service training qualifications. For example, she has trained in geochemical and flow modelling at the Colorado School of Mines.


Professional Organisations and Industry Panels

Wendy is an invited member of:

  • Australian government, Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Large Coal Mines and Coal Seam Gas (2016 to present)
  • NSW Resources Advisory Forum (2015 to present)
  • Independent Monitoring Panel for Springvale Mine Extension (January 2016 to present)

Wendy serves as a Vice-President of International Association of Hydrogeologists (Australiasia & Pacific) contributing to many IAH activities. She is a board member of IAH registered in the UK. 

She is a member of Engineers Australia (EA), Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) and the International Mine Water Association (IMWA). 

She is currently affiliated with the Australian Centre for Sustainabile Mining Practices (ACSMP) and UNSW Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre. She was formerly a Chief Investigator with the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, and involved in research with the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC, the former NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation and the former CSIRO Land and Water. 

Wendy provides independent scientific reviews and specialist work through the Australian Centre for Sustainabile Mining Practices (ACSMP) and the UNSW Water Research Laboratory (WRL).  She has been an independent hydrological expert for Community Consultative Committees related to mining proposals in farming areas. 

Courses taught

MINE8910 Mine water and waste management (course-coordinator)

MINE8760 Mine geology and geophysics (course-coordinator)

MINE8930 Fundamentals of uranium mining (course-coordinator)

MINE3220 Resource estimation (course-coordinator)

MINE1010 Bushsmart module

plus contributions to several undergraduate and postgraduate courses including MINE3910, MINE4910, MINE8101, MINE8780 and MINE8850.

Information on block short courses and on-line distance courses for postgraduates and industry personnel, offered by UNSW Mining Engineering, is here: http://www.mining.unsw.edu.au/information-for/short-courses/short-course...

Information on groundwater courses at UNSW generally is here: http://www.connectedwaters.unsw.edu.au/courses-careers


In the last 10 years, Wendy has been responsible for winning and delivering over $5.79 million of research grants (plus in-kind contributions). These grants included $5.72 million income to UNSW Engineering (Categories 1, 2 and 3), and over $657,00 to the School of Mining Engineering. 

Selected grants include the following:

ARC Linkage project (2015-2017),  "Avoiding catastrophic failure of cable bolts in underground mines". Associate Professor Serkan Saydam, Wendy and several colleagues are working on geomechanical, hydrogeological and materials engineering aspects of this issue.  This Federal government grant leverages funding from several mining companies and Jenmar Australia. 

MEA grant (2015)  on "Fracture continuity and seepage through a stratified rock mass as a function of rock strength and saturation" in collaboration with Dr Noune Melkoumian at the University of Adelaide and several colleagues. 

ARC LIEF grant (2014) for Professor Andy Baker, Wendy and several colleagues developing new analytical capability at UNSW to investigating groundwater interactions. A high termperature lemental analyser coupled to a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer will enable analysis of a range of isotopes in solid and liquid samples.

AINSE research project (2013) awarded to UNSW through the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Wendy and collaborator Dr Adam Hartland at the University of Waikato are focusing research on "Hidden terrestrial stores of organic carbon: are groundwater aquitards a globally significant carbon sink?". 

From 2009 to 2015, Wendy was a Chief Investigator of the ARC co-funded National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT), leading research on low permeability seepage barriers known as aquitards. The $3.5 million aquitard (NCGRT Program 1B) funded a team of researchers on seepage assessments using  geochemistry, geophysics and a  geotechnical centrifuge facility located at UNSW.

Research has also been completed directly for Geoscience Australia and industry partners.

Wendy's researcher ID is orcid.org/0000-0002-6114-5866

Prizes and Awards

UNSW Engineering staff excellence award: teaching and research (2015)

Engineers Australia Thesis award to supervised Honours student - H Mali (2015)

AGC Best Research Poster Award to supervised PhD student - S Cook (2015)

NCGRT Industry engagement and training award (2013)

Eureka Prize finalist for water research and innovation (CWI research team, 2011) 

Cotton Australia Science Excellence award (CWI research team, 2010)

MDBA groundwater research award (2004)

LWRRDC PhD Scholarship (1998-2001)

University of Newcastle Scholarship (1991-1994)

NSW HSC Tertiary Entrance Rank 99.15 and winner of HSC Hunter Valley geography prize

Higher research scholars 

Mahdi Zoorabadi (PhD, graduated June 2015) - permeability of jointed rock masses, Joint supervisor with Prof Bruce Hebblewhite and Assoc/Prof Serkan Saydam. Graduated 2015. 

Katarina David (PhD) groundwater flow at the interface of different permeability strata under varying stress and saturation. Joint supervisor with Prof Andy Baker and Dr Rudra Mitra. 

Scott Cook (PhD) - hydrogeology of low permeability strata. Joint supervisor with Assoc/Prof Bryce Kelly

Franciso Gonzales (PhD) - assessing the risk of extreme rainfall events on mine projects, Co-supervisor with Prof Ros Taplin and Dr Simit Raval

ReReasearch projects

Current projects under supervision include:

  • Systems modelling: minimising future costs, carbon emissions and fresh water diversions for electricity generation portfolios
  • Mine environment: indicators of swamp health near longwall mines using water & nutrient tracers
  • Design of slurry barriers to limit groundwater flow between an open pit mine and surface water
  • Mine closure & rehabilitation: the future of voids left by open cut mines
  • Porous media hydraulics: strength and permeability of layered overburden strata as function of moisture content
  • Risks for longwall mining from reactivation of geological faults and groundwater flow
  • Geomechanics & hydrogeology: role of groundwater and clay strata in stress corrosion cracking of cable bolts
  • Hydrogeology: groundwater flow near rockbolts in underground mines

Honours students 2015 - Alexandra Fegan, Lin Gao, Daniel Morris, Luke Saad, Paul Cai 

Honours students 2014 - Tang Yijian, Claire Tonkin, Liu Jinyu , Si Zhang, Ross Ireland, Kelsea Kurtzer, Heather Mali, Danqi Li, Yanpeng Chen

Honours students 2013

  • Habio (Chris) Liu - Design of a low permeability barrier (LPB) to limit seepage between aopen pit mine and a river (with Dr Crane)
  • Yinxia (Yolanda) Zhong - Geotechnical and geochemical stability of clayey rocks interacting with groundwater seepage to mines 
  • Rohan Latimer - Optimisation of backfill particle sizing at Perilya’s Broken Hill Southern Operation
  • Biao (Bryan) Yang - Optimising PAF waste usage in stabilised/solidifed waste monolith 
  • Suman Thapta - Mine water and tailings treatment coupled with CO2 sequestration (with Dr Bouzalakos)
  • Andrew Chung - Dissolved gases and geochemical tracers as early indicators of potential leakage from CSG operations (with Dr Bouzalakos)
  • David Zhao - The effect of process water seepage on the hydraulic integrity of low permeability clay liners in tailings storage facilities (with Dr Bouzalakos)
  • Bronwyn Cameron (CIVENG) - Geophysical investigation of recharge through clayey soil. NCGRT student supervised by Dr Ander Guinea
Summer students 2013-2014 
  • Dongi Li, Ross Ireland, Tang Yijian, Hong Chang

Honours students 2012

  • Mathew Aikins - Mechanical, hydraulic and swelling properties of low permeability clayey cores.
  • Michael Favaloro – Hydrogeology of an open cut mine project assessing impact of old mine workings.
  • Elena Rodionova – Optimizing exploration techniques with geophysical logging, Russia.
  • Daniel Araminni - Water quality (nutrients, organics) and isotope tracers in clayey aquitards. 
  • Mark Bryan - Water balance economics and migration of saline porewater. 
  • Philip King - Water balance, hydrogeology and salinity of the Yarramanbah site. 
  • Hui Ling Lim - Nano colloid transport in groundwater systems. 
  • Stephanie May - Water balance, hydrogeology and potential transport of contaminants, Breeza agricultural farm. 

Summer students 2012-2013: Mukhlis Mah, Gary Pate

Honours students 2010-2011: Alexander Rogan, Chris Farley, Blake Bambrook, Hannah Walmsley, Ed Kearney, Malinda McDonell.


Looking for PhD scholars

PhD projects are currently available in:

1) Accounting for mining project risks in water stressed environments - technical and governance liabilities (mining engineering, environmental engineering, resource/risk analysis); 2) Water tracer technologies to evaluate hazards of water loss to underground excavations (geochemistry, isotopes); 3) Coupled hydrogeological-geomechanical processes in underground mining, 4) Quantifying flow and reactive solute transport in aquitards using advanced techniques (inter-disciplinary research with geotechnical centrifuge experimentation, on site field monitoring and numerical modelling). 

Elite students with Bachelor of Engineering or Science in a related discipline (must be 1st class Honours or 85% grade average in undergraduate degree) and demonstrated aptitude for research may be competitive for PhD scholarships (subject to English requirements of UNSW). Complete the self-assessment here: https://research.unsw.edu.au/hdr-self-assessment-tool.  If you are likely to be eligible for entry and scholarship, you can email the self-assessment results, a CV and academic transcripts to w.timms@unsw.edu.au  

Unfortunately there are currently no funded opportunities for research projects for postdoc, Masters student, summer student, internship or research assistant level.