The Explorer Challenge has officially kicked off, with more than 2 TB of OZ Minerals project data going live and more than 1,000 global innovators on a wait list to test the limits of data science and geology by developing groundbreaking approaches to mineral exploration, Unearthed says.
OZ Minerals and Unearthed, an energy and resources open innovation platform, partnered to deliver this online crowdsourcing competition to find new exploration targets at the Mount Woods tenements of the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine (pictured), in South Australia.
Unearthed said: “Economic mineral deposits are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Geologists regularly spend years collecting and analysing disparate data, frequently testing hypotheses, from huge areas of land, often for little or no reward.
“Explorers are looking for new approaches to solve this problem and develop innovative processes and ways of working that can drive up the discovery rate and, in doing so, decrease the number of holes drilled for less environmental and economic impact, resulting in a more sustainable and efficient future for mineral exploration.”
Crowdsourcing is a process by which such a problem and the accompanying data is made available digitally to third parties from around the world, who then compete to deliver the best solution.
In addition to a A$1 million ($713,785) prize pool, the winning model on the Explorer Challenge will be tested in real life, with the top targets scheduled to be drilled by the end of 2019.
OZ Minerals’ Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Cole, said: “The iterative process of collecting different datasets, followed by geological interpretation can take a long time. The Explorer Challenge is one way we can speed up the exploration lifecycle and analyse information at a much faster rate.”
Unearthed Industry Lead – Crowdsourcing, Holly Bridgwater, said: “Geologically speaking, the key advantage of crowdsourcing is for us to be able to assess an area of ground much faster. Instead of accessing a few opinions, you have access to hundreds and potentially thousands of opinions and you can use that collective brainpower in a short period to collate many different interpretations and see where potential targets might be.
“All the different data collected has the potential to give signals and indicators and when analysed in different ways, gives the best opportunity to highlight points of difference and generate new thinking to help find the prized needles in the haystack.”
The Explorer Challenge will run until the end of May, with winners announced in June.