Prospector of the year – by Kip Keen ( – March 6, 2015)

And this year’s award for ‘Amazing Exploration Genius’ goes to…Western Australia. In an industry overweight with large, usual male egos and aggressive credit-taking, we tend to celebrate the individual.

The amazing CEO. The hardened, relentless prospector. The brilliant geologist. And each year they get their awards for driving, overseeing and being lucky in making significant discoveries.

Often, the praise is well-deserved, when they have played an instrumental role in doing one of the hardest things you can do: find a major deposit. I do it myself. I sometimes profile the person who “made” the big discovery, usually the geologist who targeted the obvious discovery drillhole. It’s exciting.

So we like to celebrate the genius – a trait shared by society at large, obsessed as it is with celebrity, of all kinds. But in focusing on the individual in mining, we overlook some very important players: namely governments that expend significant financial and cerebral resources on supporting exploration.

Indeed, maybe, given what can be their driving role in discovery, it’d be worth a class of award on its own: Best government in exploration. Really.

And then sometimes they deserve the headline prize, beating out that brazen and brilliant explorationist.

Consider Western Australia (WA).

In recent years it has upped the ante in co-funding greenfield exploration, drawing interest with geoscience data roll-outs, and meantime decreasing permitting times for mines, once found.

Every six months or so it offers around $5 million in co-funding to exploration companies to cover exploration and drilling costs on greenfield and innovative project ideas in Western Australia.

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