Introducing the 2024 Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield Selection Panel
Introducing the 2024 Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield Selection Panel
News > Introducing the 2024 Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield Selection Panel
Introducing the 2024 Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield Selection Panel
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Introducing the 2024 Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield Selection Panel

DPI is delighted to announce the 2024 Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield Selection Panel who will shortlist our 2024 finalists. The Battlefield is now open to innovators and researchers from around the world to compete for US$25,000 in prize money by pitching their early-stage innovations, ideas and research proposals.

The 2024 Battlefield Challenge:

What are the innovative responsible collaborations between LSM & ASM, and how can these be applied to the just energy transition?


Our prestigious Selection Panel will collaboratively scrutinise every entry. All finalists will then participate in an online heat – those winners go forward to the final round at the Mining Indaba, Cape Town in February 2024.

The Selection Panel comprises four outstanding influencers in global business, government and academia, who are all authorities in their own space on the subject of artisanal mining and sustainability. They are:

Nellie Mutemeri is a Mineral Resources Governance Expert with a PhD in Geology. She is the Founder and Mining Practice Director of MutConsult an advisory service in minerals, energy and climate, and also Executive Director of Panua, a skills development social enterprise focusing on TVET skills development for the minerals sector in Africa.

Nellie is also an adjunct academic in the School of Mining Engineering, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and the Director of its Mineral Resources Governance Research Group. She has more than 30 years of experience in the minerals sector in Africa, Latin America and Asia, focusing on sustainability, mineral policy and strategy, ASM formalisation, gender equality, and responsible supply chains.

She is a scientific board member at the UNESCO International Geosciences Council Programme and is on the editorial board of EPISODES: Journal of International Geoscience. She is also the Chairperson of the EU funded AfricaMaVal Advisory Board. She is a co-author of the World Bank 2012 "Rapid assessment toolkit for gender in ASM".

Nellie is an avid gardener with a keen interest in collecting exotic plants. Together with her husband, Nellie practices smallholder restorative agriculture.

Cristina Maria Villegas is the Director of Sustainable Markets at Pact, a global nonprofit organization at work in 40 countries worldwide. She is a leading global expert on responsible mineral sourcing, specializes in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), and has experience across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Cristina is best known for her specialties in green-transition materials and in jewellery-relevant minerals. Her work has been featured in Vogue, The Financial Times, New York Times, the UK Guardian, Forbes, Wired, JCK Magazine, Rapaport, In Color, National Jeweler, InStore Magazine, among many others.

In addition to Pact, she lectures for Columbia University’s Executive Course on Extractives and for Columbia University’s Massive Open Online Course. Her written work has been published by Routledge and Cambridge University Press.

In 2021, she won the top prize in jewellery industry reform: The IAC Award for Leadership in Responsible Practice in Jewellery for her work on Moyo Gems, a responsible miner-to-market initiative focused on the women gemstone miners of East Africa. Cristina has degrees from the London School of Economics (MSc.) and the University of California at San Diego (Hons. BA with Distinction).

Hayley Mcgillivray has a background of ten years working as a geologist in the mining industry. During this time, one focus was managing research and development partnerships with research organisations and operational implementation of outcomes.

Over the last decade, Hayley has worked with small businesses and research organisations, facilitating research knowledge transfer into industry. Hayley spent three years delivering the Federal Government Entrepreneurs Program- Innovation Connections. In this role, she supported numerous businesses in developing their innovation roadmap, and established Industry research projects worth over $3.75M.

Hayley is studying for her PhD in Industry-Research Collaborations and runs her own consultancy Iter Innovation. Hayley is a program manager at Amira Global and manages the West African Exploration Initiative.

Cassia Johnson is currently a Policy Analyst with Natural Resources Canada, and an interdisciplinary geologist and social scientist. She is a doctoral candidate (University of Exeter), focusing on the intersections of small-scale mining, innovation, and sustainability, using qualitative research methodologies.

Prior to her PhD studies, Cassia spent two years as a quaternary geologist working with public and private sectors in public geoscience, mineral exploration, geohazards, water resources, and policy review.

She has a decade of multi-faceted experience in mineral exploration. Cassia was born and raised on Treaties 4 and 6 in Saskatchewan, Canada. She is an accredited geologist (P.Geo) holding a Bachelor of Science (High Hons) (University of Saskatchewan), and a Masters of Earth and Environmental Science (University of Waterloo).

The Battlefield is about finding new leaders with fresh ideas, for real impact. The entry portal is open from 16 October to 6 November for anyone, any consortium, any research group, any institution or NGO to submit a short research proposal. Those working on challenges and solutions on the African continent are particularly suitable.

Would US$25,000 go some way to achieving your project’s goals? Find out more about the Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield, or subscribe to our email information list.

The Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield is presented by DPI and Mining Indaba, and sponsored by BHP Xplor.