The ‘ToughSkin’ development project is being carried out at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales. It is designed to create a prototype of the fast-acting, sprayable membrane which will offer market opportunity for BASF.

University of Wollongong principle professor Ernest Baafi said: "Currently, operators are required to manually lift and install mesh sheets to capture any dislodged roof material for strata reinforcement and confinement in underground coal mines.

"ToughSkin is a polymeric alternative to steel mesh with enhanced capabilities."

BASF underground construction chemicals global head Matthew Ross said: "Because the product can be spray-applied, ToughSkin is expected to generate significant improvements in safety, development productivity and effectiveness in the roadway development support cycle."

ACARP has earlier supported the project with more than A$5m ($4.33m) funding.