The Doray Minerals team that discovered the Andy Well deposit north of Meekatharra and turned it into one of WA's few new gold mines has won the prestigious AMEC Prospector Award.
Doray managing director Allan Kelly and just-retired exploration and new business director Heath Hellewell were awarded the prize in Perth last night at the conclusion of the Association of Mining and Exploration Com- panies' annual convention.
It caps a two-day industry gathering punctuated by concern over a lack of investor support for mineral exploration and the strength of the China-fuelled boom for commodities, and with the WA Government's royalty review hanging over the industry.
There is fear within the gold sector the Barnett Government intends to hike its royalty rate, which would put further pressure on an industry already struggling to contain costs at a time of a subdued gold price and easing ore grades.
The nickel sector has also been hard hit and is only now starting to recover from a period of prolonged metal price weakness.
Michelle Andrews, deputy director-general of the Department of Mines and Petroleum and joint chair of the royalty review, told the convention a final report would be presented to the Government late this year. "The changing economic viability of commodity sectors is a very important consideration during the review, as (are) changes in mining techniques," she said.
"The review team is very mindful of the decline in exploration spending, downward pressures on prices and high costs."
She urged "continued collaboration" with industry and stressed there were no "predetermined outcomes".