Prize Parameters

The Zero-Waste Mining XPRIZE team has begun drafting a high-level framework for the competition. Here is what’s been established so far:

Round 1
Teams that have registered for the competition will draft a technology proposal for a zero-footprint mine for submission to the judging panel.
Length: 1 year

  • Output:* Detailed white paper describing the technology and processes, as well as a plan for post-competition scalability
    ***Evaluation Criteria: ***Environmental, Economic, and Technological Viability and Sustainability
    Result: Milestone prizes for up to 10 teams

Round 2
Semi-finalist teams will be provided with a well characterized copper ore sample from an operating mine for laboratory-scale development efforts.
Length: 2 years.
***Output: ***A well characterized metallic copper sample.
***Evaluation Criteria: ***Metallic copper grade and recovery, environmental impact of proposed methodology, and economic model.
Result: Milestone prizes for up to 5 teams.

**Round 3 **
Finalist teams will be given access to the mine site where they will set up a prototype-scale version of their technology.
Length: 2 years.
***Output: ***One metric ton of metallic copper in a market-ready format (e.g. cathode, powder, pellet, etc) .
Evaluation Criteria: Metallic copper grade and recovery, environmental impact study, and economic feasibility, and assessment of sustained mining operation performance.
***Result: ***Grand prize(s) for the team or teams that achieve the competition goals.

At XPRIZE we try to strike a balance between audacity and achievability. How achievable is this framework? What are we missing? What should we look for in order to ensure the long-term impact of the resulting technologies?

Now is the time to really DIG into the details!

Let us know all of your comments, thoughts, and ideas below.

Hi. Great stuff! Is 5 years too long for innovative ideas? You have experience here, but this seems incredibly long. Thanks!

@jonellermann great question- an XPRIZE usually lasts around 3-5 years, although some go longer if necessary. We were actually worried the timeline above was too SHORT given the complexities involved in developing and deploying this technology. Can you or anyone else think of any obstacles we might encounter in terms of regulations, permitting, logistics, supply chain, etc. that could cause delays?

I’m having a small challenge envisioning how round 2 works for all teams trying in-situ mining of some sort, assuming their project does not involve removing rock from a mountain or the ground prior to concentrating and collecting the valued minerals of interest. Any project that involves removing rock from it’s geological formation for processing should be fine taking sample rocks in round two. But thinking now about in-situ bio-mining techniques, perhaps it can only be appropriately developed and tested, even at the small scale, on geologically in-place rock? Maybe it is worth considering a slight modification for any teams doing an in-situ technique where removed rock doesn’t really apply to prototype at small scale at an in-situ site.

Second, I recognize the selection of copper ore as a priority mineral of great importance for the renewable energy and electrification processes society will go through as we electrify and get off fossil fuels, yet is the intent to limit the challenge to copper ores only? There may be valuable zero footprint techniques that just don’t work well for copper ore, but may work for other valuable ores, like cobalt, lithium, etc. Do you mean to exclude those? Perhaps there can be an opportunity for teams to select the ore used with their technique to prove out it’s value?

Just some thoughts that have been percolating for a few weeks since reading the first post above.

@cedwards These are both fantastic questions and I hope my answers are satisfactory.

Regarding your question about round 2 - We have changed this slightly since this post. We recognize that putting too many boundaries on the testing of teams’ technologies may keep some teams out of the competition. What we would now be asking is for teams in this round to demonstrate the segment of their solution that represents the “highest technical risk.” In other words, the new innovation their holistic mining solution most depends on for success. They will propose how to best demonstrate their technology and XPRIZE would provide whatever resources we are able, whether that’s an ore sample or something else. They must also provide a robust plan for scaling to the complete solution in the final round.

Regarding the focus on copper - Copper was selected as the focus resource early in the design. Although we want to be open to the widest selection of new innovations possible, it has been XPRIZE’s experience in the past that being too broad makes a competition too difficult to judge in a concrete and fair manner. Copper specifically was selected because it has the best balance between the interests of the potential prize sponsors and XPRIZE’s mandate to have the largest possible beneficial impact. However, we are considering “bonus” or “moonshot” prizes for teams that can show there technology has applicability to commodities beyond copper, budget pending.

I hope this clarifies things, and please let us know if you have any follow-up comments or questions.

That all makes good sense @"DavidPoli ". Thanks for the responses.

Happy to know changes in Round 2. I will present a technology based in In-situ mining where samples are not requiered. What we need is access to a tunnel crossing a mineralized copper ore body. A pilot test could be easily run from the floor tunnel

Due to most of the copper reserves are sulfides ore (not oxide) , I asume that all teams will test on sulfides. Sulfides are the future of the copper production.

In order to perform Round 3 it will be necessary to count the availability of a SX-EW plant

Regarding the length of Rounds, I suggest 6 month for Round 1, 1 year for Round 2 and 2 years for Round 3.

@FER all great points. Since posting this we’ve modified Round 2 slightly to accommodate for teams who might need something else other than an ore sample or might not need any resources from us at all. We are also developing support services to help teams find whatever they might need to complete their holistic solution, such as the use of a SX-EW plant. Regarding the length of the competition, we have also modified it slightly to be closer to your suggestions, although we have a longer round 1 to allow more time for more teams to register. Thanks for your input! We’re almost done with our design!

When is this competition starting?