Bonded particle modelling (BPM) is nowadays being extensively used for simulating brittle material failure. In BPM, material is modelled as a dense assemblage of particles (grains) connected together by contacts (cement). This sort of modelling seriously depends on the mechanical properties of particle and contact, which are named here as micro-parameters. However, a definite calibration methodology to obtain micro-parameters has not been so far established; and many have reported some serious problems. In this research, a calibration procedure to find a unique set of micro-parameters is established. To attain this purpose, discrete element code of UDEC is used to perform BPM. This code can be conveniently developed by the user. The proposed BPM is composed of rigid polygonal particles interacting at their contact points. These contacts can undergo a certain amount of tension, and their shear resistance is provided by cohesion and friction angle. The results demonstrate that each material macro-property (i.e. Young's modulus, Poisson's ratio, internal friction angel, internal cohesion, and tensile strength) is directly originated from and distinctly related to the contact properties (i.e. normal and shear stiffness, friction angel, cohesion, and tensile strength). Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.