New Unearthed challenge focuses on addressing the accelerated aging of dam liner

An iron ore mine located in the Pilbara is looking for solutions to address the accelerated aging of a process water dam's liner.


Unearthed offer innovators and existing companies the opportunity to apply solutions to another important industry challenge, in return for custom, recognition and prizes. This competition is ideal for companies with existing or developing technologies and innovators with novel design ideas that could solve the problem.

The Issue

The accelerated ageing of the HDPE liner was identified as being due to an outdated liner resin formulation and exposure to the high-temperature and high-UV Pilbara conditions.

The liner is currently intact, but over time the mechanical properties of the liner will degrade, and it may become prone to cracking. This will impact the liner’s ability to retain water. The company has implemented various strategies to manage the risks due to liner ageing but is seeking a long-term strategy to contain process water in the dam.

The options presented to date consist of relining the dam or constructing a new dam. These options are not preferred as relining the dam requires extensive plant downtime and the construction of a new dam is expensive and will require complex tie-in work.

The Challenge

The challenge is to propose a solution that will ensure the dam contains water. The solution shouldn’t require extensive plant downtime, or the construction of a new dam.

The solution is anticipated to be one of the following:

  • A permanent solution that prevents the dam from leaking for the remaining life of the mine (20 years)
  • An interim solution which delays the requirement for relining the dam or constructing a new dam
  • A solution to “patch” cracks and/or tears in the liner

The Opportunity

Companies (startups or small-to-medium enterprises) and innovators who participate in this challenge will have the opportunity to:

  1. Gain exposure within the sponsor company – your company, technology and proposed solution will be viewed by management involved in the assessment of all submissions including the operations and technology teams.
  2. Connect with the sponsor company’s leaders – companies and innovators who are selected and short-listed based on their proposal will be invited to a private forum hosted by the mining company. In this forum, management will provide further details on the current operational landscape for your solution. You will have the opportunity to meet the team for deeper engagement and to discuss your proposed solution and its contribution to the challenge.
  3. Win the opportunity to co-develop your solution and trial your technology inside the sponsor company – while we cannot make a binding commitment, the goal of this challenge is to identify potential technology companies as partners who can support the co-creation of a solution that is ’fit-for-purpose’ and able to be piloted at the mine site.
  4. Win a new customer

This competition is ideal for companies with existing or developing technologies and innovators with novel design ideas that could solve the problem. To learn more about the challenge, or to see what other industry problems needs solving, go to the Unearthed website here.

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