Newcrest’s online platform engages global innovators to crack operational challenges
29 August 2018 – Following the success of ‘hackathon’ initiatives between 2015 and 2017 that have unlocked significant value through crowd sourcing, gold-copper miner Newcrest Mining has launched The Newcrest Crowd platform developed in partnership with Unearthed. The platform provides a structured channel to host online challenges that harness the collective wisdom of ‘the crowd’ to help solve business problems.
After a pilot process over January to July 2018 involved two successful challenges that delivered commercially-applicable solutions, Newcrest launched The Newcrest Crowd as an industry-leading initiative at a breakfast event in Melbourne on Wednesday 29 August 2018.
At the launch, Newcrest Chief Innovation Officer Gavin Wood gave a keynote presentation on leading the industry in developing long-term strategic partnerships with innovators, entrepreneurs and other METS companies around the world.
“This sophisticated approach has seen Newcrest develop a clear and mature program through which our pipeline of challenges can be run, potentially unlocking significant ongoing value to Newcrest. There are also contributed benefits for our industry and the community of innovators with whom we work,” Wood said.
The first online challenge of The Newcrest Crowd, Hydrosaver, was released to Unearthed’s community in February 2018. Newcrest asked innovators to predict the density of a tailings underflow inefficiency at the Cadia mine, and therefore water content, three hours ahead of time, to enable more efficient recycling of water from the tailings process.
Participation in the challenge was truly global with solutions received from 12 countries, including Canada, India, USA, Argentina, China, South Africa and Australia. 150 highly skilled individuals formed teams which submitted over 750 predictive models, and the winning team are currently working with Cadia mine to implement their solution. The winning algorithm from the Hydrosaver competition, submitted by Three Springs Technology, has potential benefits for both operational performance and environmental sustainability.
Newcrest is already seeing a positive financial impact from crowd-sourced solutions and partnering. The miner has many data science models in production and a range of prototypes being tested and developed across their operations.
This has led to increased awareness within the business of the benefits of open-source innovation.
“We have mining business problems and challenges that we’ve been trying to solve for a long time. By putting these out to ‘the crowd’, we can access different thinking and not be constrained by resource or geographic boundaries. This allows us to develop new ideas and solutions in a low-risk, low-cost way, letting our people focus on using their domain expertise and providing opportunities for those who make up the labour force of the future,” said Wood.
Since 2014, Unearthed has been connecting resources sector companies with external innovators around the world to elicit solutions to their operational challenges. An Unearthed supporter and partner since 2015, Newcrest has worked with Unearthed to steadily build their strategy to access digital innovators via multiple hackathons and other online competitions.
“Newcrest’s significant commitment to developing a structured and repeatable crowdsourcing program, and equipping their people with new, efficient methods to solve multi-million-dollar challenges, makes them a stand-out in the international mining industry and innovator community,” said Unearthed Founding Director Justin Strharsky.
 Crowd sourcing is a process that uses a public audience’s collective input to derive solutions to a challenge.