Global crowd creates diverse solutions to crush Newcrest's rock bridges challenge

Global Crowd Burn Your Bridges
The Newcrest Crowd Burn Your Bridges online competition closed on 31 October 2018, after two months of rigorous work from innovators seeking to crush Newcrest's rock bridges challenge. Unearthed and Newcrest Mining judges have been blown away by the quality and diversity of the 26 submissions received from 150+ global participants from Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) companies, startups, return hackathon participants and community members, plus one planetary science team.
A critical challenge

At Newcrest's Telfer mine site in Western Australia, a top priority is to keep operations going without major interruptions. After planned maintenance, rock bridges are the single biggest issue preventing more ore moving through the crushers.

Rock bridges

For one single site like Telfer, the accumulated losses due to rock bridges can regularly surpass $10m per annum. 

A vast array of valuable solutions

Congratulations to the Burn Your Bridges winners:

1st Prize (A$10,000): Monte Rocks

2nd Prize (A$3,000): Sentient Machina

3rd Prize (A$2,000): AMROCK

In addition to A$15,000 prize money, the winning teams now have the opportunity to further progress their solutions, kicking off with an engagement workshop with Newcrest in the coming weeks. We look forward to hearing the outcomes - watch this space.


1st Prize Team: Monte Rocks

Location: Perth, Western Australia

Monte Rocks Crop

Background: Stephen Mott is a Specialist in Engineering Cybernetics at BHP, who studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Western Australia. This is the third winning submission for Stephen, having previously been on the 1st place teams at Digital Tribes Perth 2016 and Unearthed Perth 2018. Rico Beti is a Software Engineer at FreshTrackSystems with a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Edith Cowan University who specialises in systems architecture and low level systems programming, and is a passionate coder.

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Solution: Monte Rocks is a physics-based Monte Carlo simulator created using the General Assemblies and Isometrics of Train 1, which was used to show the effect that changing blasting parameters could have on rock bridges caused through jigsawing. This method can reduce the probability of rock bridges due to jigsawing by 18% and provides a positive return on investment.The resulting data can be integrated into the blasting decision making process to ensure that blasting decisions consider the effect of rock bridges.

Burn Your Bridges experience:

Unearthed and Newcrest's "Burn Your Bridges" challenge has been a blast to work on. We greatly enjoyed the format of the competition and working on an actual industry problem with real-life data. The fact that it was open-ended allowed us to explore a variety of potentially viable approaches, all of which were beyond what either of us had attempted before" - Stephen Mott.

"Having had the ability to discuss our approach and ideas with Newcrest staff throughout the competition was phenomenal. In particular, the insights gained from the 15 minute meeting we held with Newcrest were invaluable, allowing us to clarify our assumptions and refine our solution. After a comment made by Liem during that meeting, we were able to pivot and advance our idea in the right direction, making it significantly more viable" - Rico Beti.


Sentient machina

2nd Prize Team: Sentient Machina

Location: Melbourne and South Australia

Background: Aaron Butler is a Data Scientist at Capgemini, who has previously worked in Finance and Data Science at Origin Energy and Rory McComb is a Mechanical Engineer with a Bachelor Degree from Flinders University with First Class Honours.

Deep Learning

Solution: Deep learning integrated rock breaker booms. The devised deep learning software has the capabilities to critical analyse each dump and thus, controls the rock breaker boom to break or move rocks accordingly to both speed up the process time and remove the downtime associated with jigsawing and oversized material.

Burn Your Bridges experience:

We believe in unlocking competitive advantage with intelligent automation" - Aaron Butler.



3rd Prize Team: AMROCK

Location: Melbourne and Perth, Australia

Background: A team of six multi-disciplinary engineers from AMOG Consulting

3d printing spider crop

Solution: Gold Bullets is a multi-faceted solution that can potentially reduce downtime due to crusher blockages (from both over size rocks and bridging) by up to 85%, based on model tests conducted to date. Primary solution: engineered dump pocket conditioning using selected grades of processed and mined material, increase angle of repose using fabricated steel jigsaw pieces, increase potential energy of rock load by elevating the dumping pads, rotate the spider arms by 90°, over size detection using lower-cost sensors installed on the truck trays, and blast efficiency improvement using machine learning.

Burn Your Bridges experience:

The Burn Your Bridges challenge gave our team a chance to combine smart engineering thinking with newer technologies such as 3D printing and edge computing to test and propose a multi-faceted low cost solution to Newcrest’s rock bridging issues. We look forward to working with the Newcrest team to implement these solutions. Thank you to Newcrest and Unearthed for the opportunity" - Kanishka Jayasinghe.

A snapshot of some of the 23 additional diverse submissions received:

Team: Synchronous (innovation,engineering and prototyping startup)

Location: Seattle, USA


Background: 3 founders, including former Director of Mining at Planetary Resources, The Asteroid Mining Company, a Mechanical Systems Engineer, and an Applied Planetary Geologist.

Solution: Reduced Flow Rate for Reduced Rock Bridging solution that mitigates jigsawing-caused rock bridges by modifying haul trucks to reduce the rock flow rate into the crushers.


Team: Sandvik C&S

Location: Australia and the Netherlands

Make Tracks

Background: A group of 4 Sandvik engineers

Solution: Make Tracks - a track mounted, remote operated rock breaker that can be installed in existing scheduled downtime window for the crusher, with maintenance outside the 60m exclusion zone. Benefits include low capital investment, proven technology, operation without impacting production, and safe, physical separation of operator and equipment.


Motion Metrics

Team: MotionMetrics (METS company specialising in advanced machine learning and computer vision systems)

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Background: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Solution: Predict Your Bridges with AI, which utilises proven artificial intelligence (AI) based algorithms combined with 3D imaging of the material before, during and after unloading to enable prediction and detection of bridging. The vision based technology allows minimum interference with existing operations, while the AI based technology adapts to the operational changes.


Team: Fossil Fools

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Fossil Fools

Background: Second place winners at Unearthed Melbourne 2017. Scientist and Machine Vision Software Engineers, Founders of Innovative Machine Vision Pty Ltd.

Solution: a Rill-y Good 3D Solution. The real-time 3D laser scanning of the dump-pocket quantifies the rill-wall geometry, measures coarse fragmentation and detects oversize. This data will provide both actionable intel for operators and increase understanding of the rill-walls' behaviour and material in the dump-pocket.


Team: Stone Three Mining

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Bridge Detection

Background: Unearthed Cape Town 2016 participants. Founders of Stone Three - an industrial IoT company that leverages its extensive domain knowledge, data science and enterprise software expertise, and device capabilities to develop sustainable solutions for repeating problems.

Solution: a Machine Vision based Early Detection solution. Early crusher bridging and oversized particle detection is made possible using state of the art machine vision and deep learning technology, so that bridges can be cleared early-on to limit crusher downtime to a minimum.


Team:  Golden Knights

Jumbo Funnel

Location: Las Vegas, USA

Background: Participated at the Battleborn hackathon earlier this year. Senior Developer and Data Scientist in the Financial Industry.

Solution: Jumbo Funnel prevents fine material from accumulating in the dump pocket walls and maximises the angle of material fall in order to avoid rock stagnate, by eliminating the possibility of fine material forming an angle of repose.


Team: Aurecon

Location: Brisbane, Australia


Background: Client Manager and Business Analyst at Aurecon, with process engineering and entrepreneurial experience.

Solution: Aurecon's Wreckloose submission proposed a robust yet simple mechanism to hydraulically actuate the material bed above the crusher. This increases material flow by opening the feed volume. Solution benefits include: robustness, removes people from a hazardous area, can act instantaneously and remotely, can be automated, is inexpensive and easy to operate due to its simplicity, and can be installed within a short time frame.


Congratulations to all 26 teams for their hard work and high grade solutions.

To keep up to date with upcoming challenges from The Newcrest Crowd, such as Get 2 the Core II - Revenge of the Depths, visit: