The Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge

The First Saving Water for Nature Grand Challenge

The Problem

Artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) activities threaten the health of ecosystems worldwide, and ASM practices are linked to habitat destruction, species’ population decline, poor water quality, hydrological changes, poor air quality, and poor human health. Despite these social and environmental costs, artisanal scale mining is a source of livelihood for an estimated 40+ million people worldwide.

The Challenge

The Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge is a global innovation competition that enables anyone, anywhere to develop a scalable solution to a global environmental, public health, and social justice challenge. This competition offers the opportunity for entrepreneurs to invent or apply a brilliant solution to the negative impacts of artisanal mining and gives them a chance to compete on a level playing field.

Conservation X Labs and its partners will launch this prize-backed innovation challenge in 2019 to incentivize scalable and transformative solutions to drive change in the growing ASM industry. New innovations and solutions can reform ASM towards less environmentally and socially harmful practices (e.g. no water contamination, large-scale hydrological changes, loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction). The incentives for innovators will be announced at the Challenge Launch later this year.

This challenge is not yet open for applications.

Interested in applying to the challenge, partnering with CXL, or staying informed on the launch? Sign up here, and we’ll be in touch!

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Our Partners

Interested in partnering with us on The Artisanal Mining Challenge? Contact water[at]

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When will the application period open?

A. The application period will open in 2019, date to be determined. Sign-up above on this page to stay informed about the launch of the challenge.

Q. How developed do the innovations need to be to be eligible for the prize money?

A. This innovation competition will reward solutions in a range TRL 3 to 9 - Technology Readiness Level. Innovations need to be beyond a theoretical design or concept - there must be a prototype, a demonstration, a pilot by the end of the application period. This is not an idea competition - the competition is not seeking new theoretical solutions or policy recommendations. Innovations may include technologies, demonstrations, systems designs, or a combination of any of these. Innovations must explicitly address water and/or biodiversity problems associated with ASM.

Q: What is Artisanal Scale Mining (ASM)?

A: ASM is NOT industrial or large scale mining. For the scope of this challenge, we adapt the definition established by the Minamata Convention on Mercury but applied to all commodities and metals. However, the definition of ASM varies by country, and USAID provides greater context about how ASM is defined by different countries in this document:

Q. Is this challenge only to address Artisanal Scale gold mining?

A. No. The challenge will source solutions to transform the environmental sustainability of ASM for all commodities in all geographic locations. Artisanal scale gold mining solutions will be accepted as well as solutions for all commodities and across all geographies.

Image Credits:
Planet Labs, Inc., CC BY-SA 4.0
ASM Definition: Jason Houston