Biodegradable cellulose gloves inventor wins 2024 Mining Innovation and Research award

8th February 2024

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Industry association Women in Mining Kenya founder Grace Akinyi won the Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield 2024 competition with her 'Eco Green Gold’ concept to produce biodegradable gloves from bacterial cellulose derived from coconut waste as a simple yet effective solution to the problem of mercury in artisanal and small-scale (ASM) gold mining.

Her innovation focuses on meeting communities where they are and providing them with a way to process their gold safely and sustainably, says mining development support organisation Development Partner Institute (DPI), which hosted the competition in collaboration with the Investing in African Mining Indaba.

Akinyi was awarded a $25 000 research grant, sponsored by mining company BHP Xplor. She will use the grant to refine the design and production of the gloves over the next 12 months, working at a grassroots level with ASM communities in Kenya.

The Mining Innovation and Research Battlefield 2024 is a high-profile platform to unearth innovative solutions to mining’s intractable challenges. The challenge's theme was: What are the innovative, responsible collaborations between large-scale mining and artisanal mining, and how can these be applied to the just energy transition?

“The intersection of decarbonisation, mining and the transition to clean energy requires new thinking, new approaches and new technology, and that is why innovation is critical,” says DPI nonexecutive director Sheila Khama.

“We are thrilled to bring together young people from the African continent and further afield to think about their contribution to the future of our planet. Their innovations are well-timed, as they may be the generation who saves the world,” she adds.

Five finalists presented their concepts at Mining Indaba, as part of the Industry Intel programme on the Insiders stage. All the finalists presented compelling innovations and research ideas to industry experts from across the mining sector, comments Mining Indaba head of content Laura Cornish.

“The concepts presented this year were very strong, and each has the potential for positive impact in the landscape of the just energy transition. This Battlefield process is highly successful in gathering innovative ideas and people for collaboration and solutions, and it adds a valuable dimension to the Mining Indaba programme,” she says.

The event is about solving intractable challenges and equipping bright innovators for the future, notes DPI executive director Florence Drummond.

“The purpose of the Battlefield is to build strength in multiple directions. Not only do we mine untapped parts of the industry for dynamic solutions to difficult issues, but we also strengthen and empower young leaders, industry professionals and academia to continue their growth and development for the future.

“Even for those who don’t win, this process lifts their profile, gives them critical industry connections and invaluable experience which can set them up to become important leaders for the future of our industry,” she says.

The 2025 Battlefield challenge will be announced towards the end of this year.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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