3 Day Short Course

TUNRA Bulk Solids will be in Perth from Monday 12th to Friday 16th November presenting their 3 day short course on "Storage, Feeding, Transfer and Belt Conveying" at the Mercure Hotel. We are very pleased to announce that the course has a full capacity of delegates with 35 people from industry registered. Emeritus Professor Alan Roberts, founding director of TBS along with Dr Tim Donohue, manager of TBS,  Daniel Auslilng and Associate Professor Craig Wheeler will be sharing thier expertise in materials handling. Our engineers would be delilghted to meet with you whilst they are in Perth to discuss any materials handling inquiries.

17th ACPS Conference

Dr Tim Donohue and Jens Plinke attended the ACPS 17th Conference in Brisbane on the 12th – 14th September. This conference series is aimed at optimising the utilisation of coal resources and operations, with a particular focus on coal preparation plants. The conference included a number of outstanding papers including case studies, advances in technologies, and ongoing research projects. In addition to the conference series, there were also over 40 exhibitors showcasing current equipment and services as well as new emerging technology developments.

CHoPS 2018 Alan Roberts Lecture Theatre 

The team at TUNRA Bulk Solids and The Centre for Bulk Solids attended the 9th International Conference on Conveying and Handling of Particulate Solids (CHoPS 2018) at Greenwich Maritime Campus, London, last week. CHoPS is one of the largest international conferences devoted to all aspects of particulate solids technology.

In order to acknowledge the outstanding contributions to the field of materials handling, a lecture theatre was named in honour of Emeritus Professor Alan W Roberts AM for the CHoPs Conference. Emeritus Professor Alan W Roberts AM has been a leading engineering educator and expert in the field of bulk solids handling over the past 50 years. Professor Roberts was the Dean of Engineering at The University of Newcastle from 1974 to 1993; he is the founding director of TUNRA Bulk Solids and the former Director of The Centre for Bulk Solids & Particulate Technologies. One of the many examples of recognition of his dedication and commitment to disseminating knowledge in this field is “The Professor Alan Roberts Shaping Futures Scholarship”, which was established in 2011 by one of Professor Roberts’ former students at the University of Newcastle.

For more than four decades, he has championed industry collaboration and innovation in the field of bulk solids handling. He has received numerous awards in recognition of his work, including an Order of Australia for his contributions to technology, research and education in mechanical engineering. He has received the prestigious Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal from the Institution of Engineers Australia for his outstanding service to engineering and has been elected to learned scientific and engineering academies.

Professor Roberts officially retired from the University of Newcastle over 20 years ago in December 1993; however, his commitment to students is unwavering. At 88 years of age, he still attends the University virtually every day to mentor, teach and guide students and research at The Centre for Bulk Solids, as well as contribute to consulting projects along with the engineering team at TUNRA Bulk Solids.

The team at TUNRA Bulk Solids & The Centre for Bulk Solids


TBS Visit to Queensland Mining Exhibition, Mackay

Shaun Reid and Dr Bin Chen travelled to Mackay in late July to attend the Queensland Mining and Engineering Exhibition (QME). The event attracted more than 200 exhibitors from a range of fields in the industry including miners, suppliers and engineers. Several thousand visitors attended the event over three days, a variety of seminars were also presented at the exhibition that provided insight into QLD coal mining and the latest developments in the industry.

Our TBS Engineers took the opportunity to converse with approximately 40 exhibitors, many exhibitors recognised the TUNRA brand and its value to the industry. In general the event provided a good opportunity to further develop relationships with new and existing clients and to stay up to date with the latest developments and innovations in the industry.

3-Day Short Course

Storage, Feeding, Transfer & Belt Conveying Course, Perth, Western Australia

TUNRA Bulk Solids will be running a 3-Day Short Course at the Mercure in Perth, WA from 13th - 15th November 2018. Register now for the early bird discount, for further information regarding this course please contact ​​

International Conference on Bulk Materials Storage, Handling and Transportation ICBMH 2019

TUNRA Bulk Solids are proud sponsors of the 13th International Conference on Bulk Materials Storage, Handling and Transportation (ICBMH 2019). The storage, handling and transportation of bulk solid materials are major activities for a vast number and variety of industries throughout the world. These range from the gentle handling of very small quantities of material in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries to the vast quantities handled and processed by the mining and mineral companies. This diversity is particularly evident in Australia where the wide-ranging nature and scale of operations is somewhat unique.

This 13th International Conference on Bulk Materials Storage, Handling and Transportation follows in the tradition of the previous series of very successful events. The conference will be held at The Mantra on View, Surfers Paradise, located on Queensland’s Gold Coast from 9 – 11 July 2019.  The call for papers is now open and papers are invited on the following subjects:

Storage and Handling

  • Bin, hopper, chute and stockpile design
  • Structural design aspects
  • Feeding and weighing
  • Discharge control systems
  • Heavy mobile machines
  • Conveyors and elevators
  • Blending and sampling


  • Belt, pneumatic and hydraulic conveying
  • Road and rail transportation
  • Ship loading and unloading
  • Systems studies in handling and transportation

Energy, Resources and Environment

  • Storage, feed and transportation of biomass, agricultural and waste materials
  • Characterisation
  • Waste utilisation opportunities
  • Dust and particulate characterisation
  • Environmental factors

Related Areas

  • Characterisation of bulk solids
  • Instrumentation for bulk solids handling applications
  • Education and research in materials handling
  • Life cycle costing and maintenance of material handling systems
  • Mixing, blending and segregation
  • Materials handling challenges

Please download a copy of the brochure for more information regarding the conference here. There are also a variety of sponsorship packages available if your organisation is interested in sponsoring the ICBMH 2019.

Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Doctoral Training Centre (DTC)

New research projects and opportunities for industry collaboration were showcased in Muswellbrook on Wednesday 6th June at an event hosted by the University of Newcastle’s Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). Dr Tim Donohue, manager of TUNRA Bulk Solids, had the opportunity to speak about TBS’s involvement as an industry partner of the Advanced METS Doctoral Training Centre.

Led by Associate Professor Kenneth Williams, from the Centre for Bulk Solids and Particulate Technologies (CBSPT), the DTC is focused on supporting the Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector by fostering collaborative PhD projects. The DTC is aimed at delivering innovative and transformational technologies and developing skilled innovators of the future and to enhance the success of the sector by building a collaborative research platform with academia.

By harnessing existing capacity and research excellence established through the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), the DTC will contribute to the development and production of new ideas, technologies and products that will support the METS sector into the future.

In his address, Dr Tim Donohue explained why TUNRA Bulk Solids is highly supportive of this initiative as it represents a step forward towards engagement between industry and academia, which has always been TBS’s core value since its inception with Emeritus Professor Alan W Roberts, in 1975.

TUNRA Bulk Solids works closely with CBSPT in forming a highly effective research translation mechanism by which the University of Newcastle leverages research excellence and capability into high impact industry engagement.

Short Course News

TUNRA Bulk Solids were pleased to present their 3-Day short course to industry from 22nd - 24th May. This course was presented to delegates from various companies ranging from Queensland to Victoria.

The topics covered over the three days were:

  • Flow properties
  • Mass flow & funnel flow
  • Stockpile design
  • Wall loads & quaking
  • Transfer chutes continuum
  • Transfer chutes DEM
  • Dust control
  • Belt Conveying of bulk solids
  • Feeder interfacing and design

The course was led by Emeritus Professor Alan Roberts, who has combined a glittering academic career and the publication of seminal technical papers with an almost uncanny ability to solve industry problems. Over his career, Emeritus Professor Alan Roberts has published five design manuals and over 350 research papers on various aspects of bulk solids handling, all the while working to build the research and consulting capabilities of TUNRA Bulk Solids.

The course was held onsite at The University of Newcastle’s NIER precinct, where TUNRA Bulk Solids is located. This was a great opportunity for delegates to see TBS’ comprehensive laboratory and test facilities, which overall made the course a great success.

Emeritus Professor Alan Roberts presenting at the 3-day short course

Associate Professor Craig Wheeler presenting at the 3-day short course

Short Courses for 2018

TUNRA Bulk Solids will be running a 3-Day Short Course at The Mercure Perth from 13th - 15th November 2018. For further information regarding this course please contact 

 The course brochure for the event can be found here

25th October 2017

As part of their overriding commitment to health, safety and the environment, NIER (Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources) have recently hosted their inaugural Health, Safety & Environment Awards.  TUNRA Bulk Solids is pleased to announce that Paul Whitworth won the category of “Individual Excellence in Individual HSE Practice”. Paul’s efforts in promoting and enforcing safety amongst his colleagues have no doubt been responsible for preventing injuries in TBS’s high risk environment and will also have had positive effects on the wider NIER site. Congratulations to Paul and all other award recipients! 


22nd September 2017

3-Day Short Course - Storage, Feeding, Transfer & Belt Conveying Course, Perth, Western Australia

TUNRA Bulk Solids will be running a 3-Day Short Course at the Mercure in Perth from 14th - 16th November 2017. For further information regarding this course please contact 

21st September 2017

TUNRA Bulk Solids were pleased to present an overview of current state-of-the-art materials handling techniques and their application to the coal industry. TBS designed a one-day conference specifically for Glencore to examine industry issues and solutions to help provide Glencore with unique insights and opportunities as leaders in their field.

The topics that were covered on the day were;

  • Flow property testing
  • Effect of moisture and clay content on flowability 
  • Proper design of bins and hoppers for mass flow
  • An overview of the custom designed impact wear and abrasive wear testers at TUNRA Bulk Solids
  • Analysis methods and best practice for transfer chute design
  • The latest testing available for the correct selection of conveyor belts and idlers.

The TUNRA Bulk Solids team of Engineers were in attendance all day providing expert advice on current bulk handling issues. Presenters included A/Prof Craig Wheeler (belt conveyors), Dr Tim Donohue (mass flow and funnel flow), Dr Bin Chen (transfer chutes and DEM), Dr Paul Munzenberger (conveyor belts and idlers), Daniel Ausling (Flow properties) and Bipin Pal (wear testing).

A keynote address was given by Professor Alan Broadfoot, Executive Director of the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER). NIER brings together The University of Newcastle’s leading researchers working in the area of energy and resources.

29th August 2017

TUNRA Bulk Solids, in conjunction with The University of Newcastle, recently ran a 3 day short course at Northeastern University that was attended by both undergraduate students and engineers from Industry. The short course was primarily focussed on belt conveying but also covered material properties, transfer chutes and principles of mass flow and funnel flow. The course was delivered by A/Prof Craig Wheeler, Dr Tim Donohue and Dr Bin Chen. TUNRA Bulk Solids has a long standing relationship with North Eastern University through Prof Song as he has spent some time in Newcastle previously and the fact that Dr Chen is a previous student of North Eastern University. Through our association with the University, one of the underlying mandates for TUNRA Bulk Solids is for the continuous education of engineers across the world in the area of bulk materials handling – this is based on the pioneering work of the our Founding Director Prof Alan Roberts.    


19th May 2017

TUNRA Bulk Solids: Case Study Presentation and Tour of Laboratory Facilities, The University of Newcastle, NSW, 24th May 2017

TUNRA Bulk Solids and the Centre for Bulk Solids & Particulate Technologies at the University of Newcastle, welcome members of the Australian Society for Bulk Solids Handling to a case study presentation and laboratory tour on Wednesday 24th May 2017 from 5:45 pm - 8:00 pm. Dr Bin Chen and Dr Paul Munzenberger will present "A Case Study of Steel Silo Failure under Eccentric Discharge Conditions."  More information regarding the event can be found here. ASBSH 2017 TBS Lab Tour

15th May 2017

2-Day Pneumatic Conveying Course

TUNRA Bulk Solids in conjunction with the Centre for Bulk Solids & Particulate Technologies will be running a 2-Day Pneumatic Conveying Course at The University of Newcastle from 10th - 11th July 2017. Professor George Klinzing from the University of Pittsburgh will be a special guest presenter. For Further information please contact 

10th May 2017

2-Day Grain Handling Course

TUNRA Bulk Solids will be running a 2-Day Grain Handling Course at The University of Newcastle from 26th - 27th July 2017.  For Further information please contact 

24th of November 2016

11th Australian Bulk Handling Awards 2016

The 11th annual Bulk Handling Awards was hosted by the Australian Bulk Handling Review on the 24th November, culminating in a gala evening and gathering of some of our industry’s finest practitioners to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement.  TUNRA Bulk Solids won the Innovative Technology category at the 2016 Australian Bulk Handling Awards for its Rail Conveyor Technology. The new conveying technology, developed by TUNRA Bulk Solids, provides a highly energy efficient and cost effective method for transporting bulk commodities.  The Rail Conveyor merges the benefits of both belt conveying technology and rail to produce a low rolling resistance bulk material transportation system.  A demonstration Rail Conveyor system was recently built in China (see pictured). The system is 150 m long and was built by Libo Heavy Machinery Company who has licensed the Rail Conveyor technology in China.


(left to right) TUNRA team - Ken Williams, Mal Coble, Danielle Harris, Craig Wheeler, Alan Roberts, Michael Carr and Bin Chen



Demonstration unit in China


16th of November 2016

Engineers Australia Presentation in Perth, WA

TUNRA Bulk Solids is proud to have been invited by Engineers Australia to give a presentation on numerical modelling in Perth, WA on the 16th of November. Our Engineering Manager, Dr. Tim Donohue was responsible for this presentation, whose title is: "The role of Numerical Modelling in the Design of Materials Handling Equipment: A pragmatic approach".


Tim's lecture on Discrete Element Modelling


3rd of November 2016

TUNRA Bulk Solids specialists hold the first Bulk Solids Storage and Handling Master’s subject in Brazil through the MoU with University of São Paulo

From the 3rd to the 5th of October 2016, TUNRA’s Director, Prof Mark Jones, and TUNRA’s General Manager – Research, Dr. Kenneth Williams, held for the first time the course Bulk Solids Storage and Handling at USP (University of São Paulo). This course was taught as a condensed Master’s subject within the Mining Engineering post-graduation program and is a result of the MoU signed between the University of Newcastle and USP in 2015. The course had 14 participants, all of which from the industry, and during these three days students had a chance to discuss practical applications of bulk solids handling systems and handling issues commonly found in the industry.


Ken’s lecture on Discrete Element Method (DEM)



Ken and Mark’s closing remarks – USP Bulk Solids Storage and Handling course


Students’ feedback after the course was very positive, which is a great encouragement to continue this type of work both in Brazil and in other countries.  This course showed, once again, TUNRA’s commitment to sharing the knowledge in bulk solids handling worldwide especially by combining academic knowledge with years of practical experience from our highly qualified staff.


29th of August 2016

Team ARNUT wins Inaugural Hunter Valley Hackathon

Over the weekend of 26th – 28th August the inaugural Hunter Valley Hackathon was held in Newcastle. Hackathon events are run by Unearthed, with this program starting in 2015 with 5 events nationwide, with the basic premise being to solve industry defined challenges over a 54 hour time period. This year, this successful program has been expanded and even includes three international locations. The focus of Unearthed can be described as “Accelerating innovation in the resources sector”. Our team (“ARNUT”), comprised of Dr Wei Chen, Dr Tim Donohue and Mr Jeremy Miller from TUNRA Bulk Solids, took on arguably the most difficult of the 3 challenges. Our challenge was to “Automate image analysis of Hylogger drill core data”, and after an intense weekend of development, we were very proud to be awarded first prize.

Our prototype is able to cross-correlate three-band RGB high resolution drill core images with hyperspectral line scanning, resulting a visual mineral mapping directly overlaying on top of the drill core image. The motivation for this work is to lead to more accurate, accelerated and efficient mineral mapping for large mineral deposit exploration, which has the potential to significantly increase the return of investment for the A$600 million exploration cost annually in Australia.

The event itself was really well run, and was both fun and challenging to be involved with. The mentorship provided with regard to the challenge and interpretation of data was outstanding, and the assistance and advice provided by the Unearthed team was excellent. The event is really a great place to test your skills, and we would encourage anyone else considering entering in the future to have a go!


Team “ARNUT” with judge and mentor Dr Chris Yeats (Chris is the Executive Director of Geological Survey NSW)


9th of August 2016

DEM7 Conference in Dalian, China


Three of our Engineers, Dr Tim Donohue, Dr Bin Chen and Dr Wei Chen, attended the 7th International Conference on Discrete Element Methods (DEM) which was held in Dalian, China from the 1st – 4th August 2016. Dr Tim Donhue, our engineering manager, also had the privilege of serving on the International Advisory Committee for this conference series. The topics of the presentations presented by TUNRA Bulk Solids ranged from a fundamental study on the uniaxial compression test to more application based work including the prediction of wall loads during eccentric discharge and applications of a coupled DEM – multi body simulation method. The conference was attended by 250 delegates from 22 countries, many of those being global leaders in DEM leading to many interesting discussions alongside the 220 formal presentations. This conference series covers the state-of-the-art developments in DEM and it is vital that TUNRA Bulk Solids participates in this series to ensure our applied research work includes the most up to date advancements in this method. TUNRA Bulk Solids is looking forward to participating again at the DEM8 conference which will be hosted by the University of Twente in the Netherlands!


(left to right) Dr Wei Chen; Dr Bin Chen and Dr Tim Donohue


6th of July 2016

TUNRA Bulk Solids participates in Bulk Material Forum  - Turkey

TUNRA Bulk Solids participated as a sponsor at the Bulk Material Forum in Turkey, which was held for the first time. The conference, which took place in Istanbul in June 2016, will become one of the most relevant in the materials handling industry in Turkey.  TUNRA is proud to be a leading player in the development of the bulk materials handling industry in Turkey and, as part of our commitment to this industry, our Business Development Officer in the region, Kerim Turkdogan, presented two technical lectures during the conference:

1)    Design of Silos According to Material Flow Properties:

  • Modes of Flow
  • Direct Shear Tests & Internal Friction
  • Effects of Time Consolidation
  • Wall Friction
  • Case Studies
  • Other Topics related to the Silo/Feeder interface

2)    Transfer Chute Design with DEM Modelling:

  • Why is transfer chute design so important?
  • Purpose of DEM
  • DEM calibration methods
  • Case Studies

Both topics generated a lot of interest from the audience and TUNRA’s booth was visited by members of leading companies in the Turkish market including Nuh Cimento, Sisecam, İsDemir, Promel, Sandvik and Bursa Cimento.



1st of June 2016

TUNRA Bulk Solids seals partnership with Brazil #1 University

The University of Newcastle through TUNRA Bulk Solids has signed an MoU with USP (University of São Paulo), the Number 1 ranked University in Brazil (Times Higher Education World Universities Ranking 2016). This MoU will enable collaboration on specific areas especially focused on the mining, minerals processing and materials handling field and will be managed by Dr. Ken Williams, TUNRA’s General Manager-Research.

This relationship started early in TUNRA Bulk Solids’ presence in Brazil, in 2014, when TBS’ General Manager, Dr. Tobias Krull, visited Brazil to participate as a keynote speaker in the ABM symposium (Brazilian Association of Metallurgy, Materials and Mining) and met Prof. Arthur Pinto Chaves, one of the key names for Materials Handling in the Brazilian industry. Being a retired professor in USP, Prof. Arthur passed on the management of this agreement to Prof. Ana Carolina Chieregati, who specializes in sampling of bulk solids and is now responsible for the MoU.

In 2015, TUNRA Bulk Solids and USP organized the first Bulk Solids Handling Workshop, which gathered approximately 60 people from the mining, steel and grains industry for over 20 presentations on bulk solids handling related topics, including international speakers from Australia, Chile and Italy.  The event, which had the presence of TUNRA Bulk Solids’ Engineering Manager, Dr. Tim Donohue, proved to be a success and both parties are looking forward to other initiatives, which may include courses and joint research projects.


(left to right) Priscilla Freire (TUNRA’s Business Development Officer/Brazil); Prof. Arthur Pinto Chaves (USP) and Prof. Ana Carolina Chieregati (USP)



Tim Donohue - TUNRA’s Engineering Manager during the Bulk Solids Handling Workshop

11th of March 2016

TUNRA Bulk Solids will be presenting at the International Powder and Bulk Solids Conference and Exhibition in the US in May 2016. Check out the full program at

As part of our commitment to education in the field of bulk solids handling, TUNRA will be presenting three Technical Workshops during the conference:

Tuesday 3rd May 2016: 10:15am – 11:45am

Troubleshooting Pneumatic Conveying:  
Pneumatic conveying offers few visual signs to help engineers understand what drives system performance. This session will explore dos and don'ts for conveyor design while taking into consideration the layout of your factory floor to help maximize your system’s output and efficiency.

Prof Mark JonesDirector of TUNRA Bulk Solids Handling Research, Head of School Mechanical Engineering, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE


Tuesday 3rd May 2016: 3:15pm - 4:45pm

TECHNICAL WORKSHOP Successful Transfer Chute Design the First Time:

  • Selecting the most favorable wall lining material based on flow property testing results
  • Minimizing impact angles between flowing/discharging material stream and transfer chute geometry
  • Favorable chute cut-off angles to guarantee flow at specified rate under all conditions
  • Reducing impact wear

Dusan Ilic, Ph.D., Senior Consulting Engineer, TUNRA BULK SOLIDS


Thursday, May 5th, 2016: 10:15am - 11:45am

Conveyer Selection Criteria for Mechanical Handling Systems
: This session will identify key selection and performance criteria when specifying mechanical handling equipment (ie. belt conveyors, screw conveyors, chain conveyors, etc.). Case studies will focus on the main issues that influence selection and providing a sound basis for selecting equipment.


Prof Mark JonesDirector of TUNRA Bulk Solids Handling Research, Head of School Mechanical Engineering, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE

Prof Alan Roberts, Emeritus Professor, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE


8th of February 2016

TUNRA Bulk Solids’ was recently visited by the Hon. Anthony Roberts MP, NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy along with Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC. The visit was part of a wider tour of the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) Precinct and the University of Newcastle. During his time visiting the laboratory of TUNRA, Minister Roberts spent time discussing two innovative projects that are being driven through engagement with Industry;


(left – right) Dr Alan Broadfoot (NIER Director), Mr Scot MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter), Hon. Anthony Roberts (NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy) and Dr Ken Williams discussing the effectiveness of the large impact wear tester (shown in the background)


Dr Ken Williams spent time discussing a new innovative test rig that is able to quantify impact wear in wall liners. The information measured with this test rig can be applied to the mining, mineral processing, agriculture, energy and process industries. The assessment and selection of effective wear resistant materials is central equipment life when handling particulate materials associated with these industries. As such, TBS have designed, built and operated innovative wear assessment equipment for use by industry to accurately assess wear liner effectiveness. When you consider that a simple transfer chute may take 1-2 days to reline with new wear liners, at modern tonnage rates of 5000 to 10000 tonnes per hour, the financial gains derived from the life cycle improvements and maintenance planning derived from these tests are obviously substantial.



(left – right) Hon. Anthony Roberts (NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy) and Dr Tim Donohue discussing the 1/5th Scale Train Load-Out developed in conjunction with Schenck Process (shown in foreground)


Dr Tim Donohue spent time discussing a 1/5th scale model of a Train Load-Out. The motivation behind this scale model, which has been developed through a collaborative research partnership with Schenck Process, is to develop a real time weigh system to track the mass of product loaded into each rail wagon as it is being loaded. This new technology offers opportunities to maximise the mass in each wagon while not exceeding weight limits and represents a step change, as current systems can only weigh the loaded wagons downstream with no opportunity for mass optimisation.