Linux inspired gold mining challenge

Open source software has come a long way since the Linux revolution. Back in 90s, it was such a unorthodox and powerful concept to make software free challenging the big proprietary software firms. Today, RedHat  a company specialising in open source IT products today is a classic example of how to build a successful open source business model which can deliver products.

Though, open source is quite common in IT world, there is a a great story in business history where an industry known for confidentiality and secrecy tool a leaf from the Linux open source model to make a bold move to crowdsource gold mining ideas.

Yes, it was in the year 2000 when the founder and CEO of Goldcorp Inc, Rob McEwen launched the Goldcorp challenge which most unconventional and not done before in gold mining.

Goldcorp, a gold producer headquartered in Vancouver, Canada was concerned about an underperforming mine in Ontario. The company’s Red Lake mine was only producing a relatively small 50,000 ounces of gold a year at a high cost of $360 an ounce. The main deposits were deeper underground, but his company’s geologists were not sure of the exact location of the precious metal.
Rob McEwen wanted new ideas of where to dig and he figured that if his Red Lake employees couldn’t find the gold then someone else would be able to.

He was inspired by the Linux open source model and taking it as template made a bold move to formulate an extraordinary challenge. He put all his company’s geological data (which went back as far as 1948) into a file and shared it with the whole world. McEwen hoped that outside experts would tell him where to find the next six million ounces of gold. In return he offered $575,000 in prizes to the participants with the best methods.

The Goldcorp Challenge was launched in March 2000 and 400 megabytes worth of data about the 55,000 acre site was placed on the company’s website. Word spread fast around the Internet and within a few weeks submissions came in from all over the world.
Some were from geologists, but many were from individuals in unrelated sectors. There were mathematicians, military officers, students, and consultants. The top winning entry was a collaborative effort by two groups from Australia.

In all more than 110 sites were identified and 50% of these were previously unknown to the company. Of these new targets, more than 80 per cent yielded significant gold reserves.
By going outside his company’s walls McEwen turned Goldcorp from a struggling enterprise into one of the most profitable in the industry.

ResonVate Thought
Opensource model in IT inspired a gold mining company to set a trend in gold crowdsourcing.

I would like to ResonVate
with ideas on challenging the status quo, crowdsourcing
which can be applied in complex problem solving, taking risks, setting challenges
in areas like Healthcare, Government, Construction

Rob McEwen