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Gold Fields launches innovation challenge, offers $10k for new algorithm

South African miner Gold Fields is the latest company seeking to bring together the brightest minds in order to solve one of its toughest questions. Th...

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|Aug 26|magazine7 min read

South African miner Gold Fields is the latest company seeking to bring together the brightest minds in order to solve one of its toughest questions.

The company has launched the Ore-X Innovation Challenge, a contest to develop an image processing algorithm to classify material in a gold mine as high, medium or low grade or, or waste.

The contest carries a first prize of A$10,000 (US$7,100), second prize of A$1,500 and third prize A$500.

The challenge will consist of two parts--processing the image to find features, and then estimating the overall grade. Contestants who submit their estimated grade and percentages and will be scored based on the number of correct answers.

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The top five ranked submissions will then submit their algorithm, which will be assessed on accuracy of the results, including subjective criteria such as the classified images, code quality, and ease of integration.

The Ore-X Innovation Challenge will provide contestants with a dataset approximately 1.2GB in size, containing 218 images, each approximately 12 megapixels.  

Submissions are currently open and will close on September 25. Winners will be announced October 9.

Growing trend

Crowdsourcing initiatives have become a growing trend among companies in the mining industry. In June, Canadian miner Integra Gold Corp launched the Gold Rush Challenge, an innovative contest that allowed online prospectors to analyze and interpret 70 years of data to come up with a plan of making a major gold discovery.  The reward was $1 million.

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"By giving the public access to this data, Integra hopes to tap into the collective brainpower of thousands of participants and save itself years of time and resources to identify high-potential exploration targets we likely wouldn't even know exist," said Integra Gold CEO Stephen de Jong.

Goldcorp held a similar challenge in 2000 that attracted over 1,600 participants and helped the company find roughly $6 billion in gold.

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