News Release

Inspiring innovative solutions to protect the planet

26 teams from across the world are developing solutions to make artisanal mining more responsible

Business Announcement

Conservation X Labs

Artisanal gold mining in Madre de Dios, Peru

image: Artisanal gold mining in the Peruvian rainforest leaves behind mining ponds filled with mercury and other toxic chemicals. view more 

Credit: Amy Richards / Guy Loftus for Conservation X Labs

Last October, a global coalition of partners began a search for the best solutions to address challenges related to artisanal and small-scale mining - from the destruction of rainforests, to widespread mercury contamination, and the health & safety of mining communities.

As of June 2020, external reviewers have determined that 26 semifinalist teams will move on to the next round of the Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge. Semifinalist teams will deliver pitch presentations to a set of judges in hopes of becoming selected as one of the 10 finalist teams to compete for $750,000 in prizes this September.

The semifinalists hail from 29 countries around the world - Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Myanmar, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Rwanda, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Togo, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Learn about the semifinalist teams and their innovations:

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is a critical source of livelihood for an estimated 40+ million people worldwide. While ASM generates wealth in developing countries, ASM practices can cause habitat loss, species' population decline, poor water quality, hydrological changes, and negative human health & livelihood impacts. Mining is among the most significant drivers of deforestation in the world's tropical forests, a leading cause of global biodiversity loss.

The goals of the Challenge are to develop innovations that prevent, remediate, and restore impacts from ASM in the environment; reform supply chains; and use data to measure the environmental and social impacts of ASM.

Conservation X Labs is leading and administering the Challenge. Conservation X Labs (CXL) creates breakthroughs and empowers innovators to build ventures that revolutionize conservation. The mission of CXL is to end the sixth mass extinction - the first mass extinction event caused by one species - our species. CXL believes that since humans have created these problems, we also have the power to solve them. One way to spur innovative solutions to these problems is through prizes and challenges like the Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge.

Facts about the ASM and the Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge:

  • The competition received a global response, with applicants from 42 different countries
  • Prize winners will be announced during a virtual event in September 2020
  • A $100,000 Microsoft AI for Earth Award will be awarded to the best solution to utilize or deploy artificial intelligence (AI), including machine learning, to address ASM in any of the Sub-Challenge categories
  • ASM is a critical source of livelihood for an estimated 40+ million people worldwide
  • Globally, ASM supplies 15-20% of diamonds, 15-20% of gold, and 70-80% of colored gemstones
  • Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is the largest global source of anthropogenic mercury pollution, contributing about 40 percent of all environmental mercury contamination


Learn more about the Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge:


Members of the Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge Global Coalition include: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Microsoft; Centro de Innovación Científica Amazónica (CINCIA) ; Delve; Conservation International; The Tech Interactive; World Wildlife Fund; Wildlife Conservation Society; Andes Amazon Fund; Amazon Conservation Association; Levin Sources; Pan American Development Foundation; Water, Environment and Human Development Initiative; Resolve; Mongabay; Pure Earth; and the Chambers Federation.

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