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The final battle has a winner: Innovator awarded USD$25,000 research grant

The winner of the Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield 2024 has been announced after a competitive final round at Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

Key Points
  • Grace Akinyi, Founder of Women in Mining Kenya, has won the 2024 Mining Innovation & Research Battlefield, convened by the Development Partner Institute and Investing in African Mining Indaba.
  • Grace’s pitch focused on empowering women in ASM mining, using biodegradable cellulose gloves as a simple yet effective solution to mercury contamination.
  • The Battlefield is a high-profile platform for innovators and researchers to share their ideas around this year’s challenge: identifying collaborations between large-scale, small-scale and artisanal mining and their application to the just energy transition.
  • At Mining Indaba, the world’s largest African mining investment event, as part of the Industry Intel program, five finalists pitched their ideas on Tuesday 6 February 2024 to a selection of industry experts from across the mining sector.
  • The winner has received a USD$25,000 research grant, sponsored by BHP Xplor, to further develop their concept over the next 12 months.

(6 February) Cape Town, South Africa – After an impressive round of head-to-head live pitches, the Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield 2024 winner has been announced.

Convened by the Development Partner Institute (DPI) and Investing in African Mining Indaba, the Battlefield is a high-profile platform to unearth innovative solutions to mining’s intractable challenges. This year our selection committee reviewed submissions from across the globe addressing the challenge ‘What are the innovative responsible collaborations between large-scale mining and artisanal mining, and how can these be applied to the just energy transition?’

Five finalists were awarded the opportunity to present their concepts at Mining Indaba, the world’s largest African Mining Investment event, as part of the Industry Intel program on the Insiders stage. Laura Cornish, Head of Content, Mining Indaba, says that all finalists presented compelling innovations and research ideas to industry experts from across the mining sector.

“The concepts presented this year were very strong and each has the potential for positive impact in the landscape of the just energy transition. It’s clear that this Battlefield process is highly successful in gathering innovative ideas and people for collaboration and solutions, and it adds a valuable dimension to the Mining Indaba program.”

Sheila Khama, Battlefield Master of Ceremonies, DPI non-executive Director and mining industry expert, agrees, saying that the ideas presented at the Battlefield all have the potential for great change.

“The intersection of decarbonisation, mining and the transition to clean energy requires new thinking, new approaches and new technology, and that is why innovation is so critical. We are thrilled to bring together young people from the African continent and further afield to think about their contribution to the future of our planet. Their innovation is well-timed – you may be the generation who saves the world!”

After much deliberation, the judges awarded the winning position to Grace Akinyi, founder of Women in Mining Kenya, with her concept ‘Her Eco Green Gold’, producing biodegradable gloves from bacterial cellulose derived from coconut waste as a simple yet effective solution to the problem of mercury in ASM gold mining. Grace’s innovation focuses on meeting communities where they are and providing them with a way to process their gold safely and sustainably.

As the Battlefield winner, Grace was awarded a USD$25,000 research grant, sponsored by BHP Xplor. Grace will use the grant to refine the design and production of the gloves over the next 12 months, working at a grassroots level with ASM communities in Kenya.

Florence Drummond, Executive Director of DPI, says the event is about solving intractable challenges as well as equipping bright innovators for the future.

“The purpose of the Battlefield is to build strength in multiple directions. Not only do we ‘mine’ untapped parts of the industry for dynamic solutions to difficult issues, but we also strengthen and empower young leaders, industry professionals and academia to continue their growth and development for the future. Even for those who don’t win, this process lifts their profile, gives them critical industry connections and invaluable experience which can set them up to become important leaders for the future of our industry.”

The 2025 Battlefield challenge will be announced towards the end of 2024. To follow the progress of the winners and learn more about future events, connect with DPI on Linkedin for regular updates.

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