Data sci­en­tists called for $1m chal­lenge


OZ Min­er­als, in part­ner­ship with open in­no­va­tion plat­form Un­earthed, has launched an Ex­plorer Chal­lenge that aims to crowd­source so­lu­tions on­line from the world’s lead­ing data sci­en­tists and ge­ol­o­gists.

Dur­ing the 10-week chal­lenge, par­tic­i­pants will have the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop ground-break­ing ap­proaches to dis­cov­er­ing new ex­plo­ration tar­gets at OZ Min­er­als’ Prom­i­nent Hill cop­per-gold mine, with a $1 mil­lion prize pool awarded to “win­ning ideas”.

Un­earthed found­ing di­rec­tor Justin Strharsky said the chal­lenge sought to test how the global re­sources in­dus­try could lever­age data sci­ence to its full po­ten­tial.

“Dur­ing the ex­plo­ration process, the it­er­a­tive process of col­lect­ing dif­fer­ent datasets, fol­lowed by ge­o­log­i­cal in­ter­pre­ta­tion, can take a very long time,” Mr Strharsky said.

“Vast amounts of data are col­lected and pro­cessed, and very of­ten this does not re­sult in a discovery.

“The Ex­plorer Chal­lenge will speed up the ex­plo­ration life­cy­cle and al­low us to an­a­lyse in­for­ma­tion at a much faster rate than be­fore.

“This com­pe­ti­tion rep­re­sents a fun­da­men­tal change in ap­proach to prob­lem-solv­ing.

“Data sci­ence tech­niques can be used for ex­plo­ration and many other chal­lenges faced by the in­dus­try.”

Mr Strharsky said the busi­ness as usual ap­proach in the min­ing in­dus­try would no longer suf­fice.

“The tra­di­tional bor­ders of our com­pa­nies must be ex­panded vir­tu­ally to in­clude peo­ple with dif­fer­ent skills and per­spec­tives from around the world,” he said.

“If your ap­proach to dig­i­tal skills is to hire peo­ple who hap­pen to live near your HQ on the ba­sis of a CV or a de­gree from a school you recog­nise, you’re do­ing it wrong.”

OZ Min­er­als chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Cole said the chal­lenge would give the team po­ten­tial ac­cess to thou­sands of sci­en­tists’ ideas and data, and the win­ning idea would have the chance to get their model tested in real life.

“The chal­lenge is a con­tin­u­a­tion of our dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney, which we started two years ago when we mi­grated all our ex­plo­ration data to the Ama­zon Web Ser­vice (AWS) cloud,” Mr Cole said.

“We want to find ways to work smarter with all the data we’ve got, not just ge­o­log­i­cal data, and chal­lenge ex­ist­ing con­cepts of how we are har­ness­ing it.”

En­tries open in Fe­bru­ary 2019 with win­ners to be an­nounced in June 2019.


The Ex­plorer Chal­lenge is open to ge­ol­o­gists and data sci­en­tists from across the world.

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