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Goldcorp Challenge

In the early 2000s, mining company Goldcorp (Canada) found itself in a difficult financial situation because it couldn’t find enough gold to mine on its land. The company had a team of geologists and a wealth of geological data on its soils, but this team was unable to locate the precious metal using its data.

In 1999, Rob McEwen went to a conference on Linux and its collaborative dynamics, and thought that if his team couldn’t analyze the data, maybe others could.

The idea arose to organize the Goldcorp Challenge. The company decided to put all its standardized geological data online, to open up its intellectual property, and to offer a prize of $575,000 to those who could process it and extract information that would enable it to find gold.

Hundreds of proposals were received from all over the world, from professions with no direct link to the mining sector: scientists, military personnel, students, computer scientists… As a result, Goldcorp was able to explore new approaches, using skills previously unknown and inaccessible to the company to process mining information.

The winners of the competition were consultants from Australia, a collaboration between the companies Fractal Graphics and Taylor Wall and Associates who created a computer model, a technique then little-if-used in this sector. The competition led to the discovery of a significant quantity of gold and enabled the operator to get through the crisis it was going through.

The company explored an atypical path, but was able to demonstrate the value of interacting with external players in the search for solutions.

The difficulty lies in finding sufficient interest to unite external players around an issue, and in this case the motivation was pecuniary.

An organization’s best skills lie outside the organization.