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|This paper presents an overview of work carried out by the CSIR Division of Mining Technology and formerly by the Chamber of Mines Research Organization (COMRO) to quantify the behaviour of the stope fracture zone near deep level goldmine stopes. The motivation for this work is first reviewed in the context of the unsatisfactory status of current mine layout design criteria. Numerical methods to represent failure processes are reviewed briefly. Specific studies of microfracture processes are described as well as physical modelling experiments that can yield insights into deformation mechanisms. Modelling of stope scale deformation mechanisms are presented and considerations relating to elastodynamic modelling of the rock mass are described. The implications of this understanding in relation to prospects for active fracture zone ?engineering? are outlined and finally, the directions of future research work are proposed.|