In addition to networking opportunities, an American mining association plans to advance advocacy efforts and education initiatives

By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) is an effective and proactive advocate for the American mining community. It has successfully influenced the outcome of political dialog, developed effective strategies for working with key elected officials, and coordinated the industry’s response to legislative and regulatory issues.

The AEMA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, which is held the first week of December, is the second-largest annual mining convention in the U.S. In addition to an exhibit with more than 250 suppliers, it offers continuing education programs in the form of short courses and technical sessions. Founded in 1895 as the Northwest Mining Association (NWMA), the 2019 convention will be the association’s 125th.

Last year during the annual meeting’s keynote luncheon, Laura Skaer announced her retirement and the appointment of Mark Compton, as the new AEMA executive director. Over the course of 22 years, she transformed the association into a strong national voice for exploration and mining. “It’s an honor and privilege to be AEMA’s executive director,” Compton said. “I clearly have big shoes to fill.”

Prior to accepting the position with the AEMA, Compton was the president of the Utah Mining Association (UMA). From 2018-2012, he worked for the NWMA as the government affairs manager, reporting to Skaer. He arrived at his new position familiar with the association, the membership and the issues they face. “I had a great opportunity to lead the Utah Mining Association for the last seven years, but this move feels like coming home in more ways than one,” Compton said. He and his wife maintained a home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, even while on assignment in Salt Lake.

Compton said the transition during the past year has been smooth and he credits the members for the success. “We have a deep reservoir of knowledge within our membership and, when you combine that with the tremendous spirit of volunteerism and commitment to seeing this industry prosper, you definitely have a formula for success,” Compton said.

Leading From Outside the Beltway

Working on behalf of its members, the AEMA focuses on advocacy, public education and networking for business development opportunities.

When it comes to advocating on behalf of minerals exploration and mining, the AEMA is a very well-respected voice and Compton wants to strictly ensure that it remains that way. “We’re a part of the discussion on national mining policy and often leading the debate,” Compton said. “The fact that we are an ‘outside-the-beltway’ organization [meaning it operates outside Washington, D.C.] backed by so many members with a historically strong voice, we are viewed as a dependable resource for elected and administration officials. We have a great deal credibility when it comes to policymaking and mining. Our members receive a tremendous bang for their buck when it comes to advocacy at the national level.”

The AEMA also has a great history of providing networking for business development opportunities through its annual meeting. He is expecting more than 2,000 mining professionals to attend the upcoming meeting in Sparks, Nevada. This group represents a true cross section of the mining community from small mine and exploration geologists to junior and large mining companies, engineers, consultants and equipment suppliers. As successful as the annual meeting is, Compton said he would like to explore ways to provide additional networking opportunities.

One of the most important aspect of any mining association is to educate the public as to the importance of mining, Compton explained. “A lot of people are quick to acknowledge the mining industry’s importance to our economy, but it’s also important to remember it’s more than that,” he said. “It’s integral to everyone’s lifestyle and standard of living. It’s at the beginning of the supply chain for everything we do and use. The industry has a great story to tell and it’s a high priority for me to tell that story and help the public make the connection between mining and their daily lives.”

Recent Wins and Losses

In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision not to impose new duplicative financial assurance requirements on hardrock mines. Compton viewed this as a defining victory for the association and the mining business.

“The draft proposal from the Obama administration was an existential threat to the survival of the U.S. hardrock mining industry,” Compton said. “Defeating that misguided proposal took a coordinated effort among leaders in the mining industry, federal land management agencies and state governments, and I’m proud to say the AEMA played a leading role in that effort.”

Today, Compton acknowledged that the industry is an unusual position where it has an administration that recognizes the importance of a strong domestic mining industry for both economical reasons and national security. “We are able to work proactively with multiple departments and agencies to improve the operating environment for the U.S. mining industry, particularly from the standpoint of a more efficient permitting system,” Compton said. “It seems like the industry has always been in a defensive position, and it’s refreshing and exciting to be able to be proactive in some of these areas.”

Mining opponents in Congress, however, are relentless in their efforts to pass punitive revisions to the Mining Law of 1872. “There is legislation currently moving through the House of Representatives that would be a disaster for the U.S. mining industry and America,” Compton said. “I’m confident we can defeat that proposal, but it will probably have to happen in the Senate.”

The U.S. has also seen a few troubling court decisions recently: an Arizona decision regarding the Mining Law and one in Idaho regarding land use plans for Sage Grouse. “Both of these are significant threats to the mining industry and will require our vigilant attention and involvement,” Compton said.

Planning for the Future

Compton admitted he was fortunate to take over a very strong organization with 2,000 members in 44 states as well as seven Canadian provinces/territories and 10 other countries. That being said, he explained, there is always room for improvement. “Growing the membership base and providing a level of service that they expect and deserve requires us to continually re-evaluate how we operate,” Compton said. “We have to determine the right balance of issue advocacy and public education as well as the business development opportunities with the limited resources we have.

“Working on a national scale is quite a challenge,” Compton said. “[AEMA members recognize the value of their] membership dollars and they have shown a willingness to increase their financial commitment to the association and the industry. With their continued support, we can take the AEMA to the next level and make a positive difference for the mining business.

The mining industry has a great story to tell, and AEMA exists to tell that story. Compton is excited to be AEMA’s executive director and he is passionate about making the connection between mining and the public’s way of life. “I believe the future of the mining industry in this country is bright,” Compton said.

“We have heard a lot over the years about the importance of energy independence, but it’s equally as important, if not more so, that we are minerals independent,” Compton said. “Our increasing dependence on foreign sources of minerals has serious national defense and economic consequences. Our country is blessed with a rich mineral endowment, yet we are greater than 50% reliant upon foreign countries for 50 different metals and minerals and 100% import reliant for 21 of those. Our mineral dependency is at a record high, more than double what is was 20 years ago, to the point where today, less than half of the mineral needs of U.S. manufacturing are met from domestically mined resources. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Many believe it’s more important now than ever for the U.S. to responsibly use its own mineral resources.

 

The 2019 AEMA Technical Program

MORNING SESSIONS, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4

STATE & PROVINCE REPORTS (Part 1)
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: Rich Perry, administrator, Nevada Division of Minerals, Carson City, NV
MINING COMMUNICATIONS AND INVESTOR RELATIONS
Area of Interest – Business & Finance
Chaired by: Ira M. Gostin, APR, president, Gostin Strategic, Reno, NV
MINE AND EXPLORATION PERMITTING, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
CHANGES ARE HERE
Area of Interest – Environmental
Chaired by: Ben Veach, principal, Stantec Consulting Services Inc., Reno, NV
POLICY AND LEGAL DECISIONS THAT COULD IMPACT YOUR OPERATION
Area of Interest – Legislative and Public Affairs
Chaired by: Tim Crowley, partner, Crowley & Ferrato Public Affairs, Reno, NV

AFTERNOON SESSIONS, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4

STATE & PROVINCE REPORTS (Part 2)
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: Rich Perry, administrator,
Nevada Division of Minerals, Carson City, NV
CRITICALITY OF DOMESTIC CRITICAL MINERALS: Geological endowment, recovery incentives or aircraft carriers?
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: Peter Vikre, U.S. Geological Survey, Reno Office, Geology, Minerals, Energy and Geophysics Science Center, Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV, and Christopher Dail, manager, Exploration, Midas Gold Idaho Inc.,
Spokane, WA
MOVING AHEAD: Growth Companies
Advance
Area of Interest – Business and Finance
Chaired by: Ronald L. Parratt, executive chairman, Renaissance Gold Inc., Reno, NV
NEW MINING IN OLD DISTRICTS: Are they the future of new mine development in the US?

Area of Interest – Operations
Chaired by: Doug Stiles, general manager, Hecla Montana, Hecla Mining Co., Coeur d’Alene, ID
ABANDONED MINES LAND (AML):
Progress from the Field
Area of Interest – Environmental
Chaired by: Ann Carpenter, consultant, Reno, NV, and Jeff Parshley, , P.G., C.P.G., C.E.M, group chairman, SRK Consulting (U.S.) Inc., Reno, NV

MORNING SESSIONS, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5

MINING DEVELOPMENT IN THE MIDWEST: GREAT LAKES STATES OPERATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: Frank Ongaro, executive director, Mining Minnesota, Duluth, MN
ALASKA
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: Deantha Crockett, executive director, Alaska Miners Association, Anchorage, AK, and Mike Satre, manager of government and community relations, Hecla Greens Creek Mining Co., Juneau, AK
THE IMPORTANCE OF MINE TO MILL RECONCILIATION IN IMPROVING
PRODUCTIVITY
Area of Interest – Operations
Chaired by: Abani R Samal, Ph.D., CPG, RM-SME, principal, GeoGlobal, Riverton, UT
MINE CLOSURE AND RECLAMATION
Area of Interest: Environmental
Chaired by: Nick Rauh, Western/Central technical manager, Agru America Inc., Fernley, NV
2019 PUBLIC LANDS
Area of Interest – Legislative and Public Affairs
Chaired by: Debra W. Struhsacker, principal, Struhsacker Consulting, Reno, NV

AFTERNOON SESSIONS, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5

Large Left Lateral Leaps to GeoLogic
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: E. Max Baker, vice president of exploration, Integra Resources Corp., Reno, NV

MEXICO EXPLORATION
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: Kurt Allen, director, New Projects, Hecla Ltd., Blaine, WA, and Stephen Redak, exploration manager, Mexico, Durango y alrededores, México
RAISING CAPITAL IN MINING TODAY – What is different than just 10 years ago?
Area of Interest – Business and Finance
Chaired by: Tim Alch, financial analyst, managing partner, TAA Advisory LLC, Edgewater, NV
MINING HYDROLOGY – PIT LAKES
Area of Interest – Operations
Chaired by: Mike Hardy, senior project manager, Lumos & Associates, Reno, NV, and Ronald Parratt Jr., environmental specialist, Newmont Mining Corp., Reno, NV
Large Left Lateral Leaps for
Environmental – EXISTENTIAL THREATS: Can we dodge the next one?
Area of Interest – Environmental
Chaired by: Jeff Parshley P.G., C.P.G., C.E.M, group chairman, SRK Consulting (U.S.) Inc., Reno, NV

MORNING SESSIONS, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6

THE CURT EVERSON GREAT BASIN EXPLORATION SESSION
Area of Interest – Mineral Deposits,
Geology and Exploration
Chaired by: Greg Hill, principal geolologist, Renaissance Gold Inc., Reno, NV
TALES FROM THE TRENCHES:
Successful Mining Operations in Spite of Operational Challenges
Area of Interest – Operations
Chaired by: Jami Dwyer, senior mining engineer, Barr, Las Vegas, NV, and Brad Dunn, senior mining geologist, Barr, Salt Lake City, UT
POWERING THE GREAT MINES OF THE FUTURE – Spacely Sprockets, or Cogswell Cogs?
Area of Interest – Operations
Chaired by: Eric Williams, consultant, NEI, Washington, D.C.
POLITICS MATTER: 2020 Implications to Mining in America
Area of Interest – Legislative and Public Affairs
Chaired by: Mark Compton, executive director, American Exploration & Mining Association, Spokane Valley, WA